Florida Girl Scout group struggling to sell over 200,000 boxes of cookies

The Girl Scouts of Citrus Council is encouraging people to buy cookies, saying it could potentially lose $1 million of funding because they are not selling enough this season.

Crystal Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the Girl Scouts of Citrus, said the coronavirus pandemic has left them with a shortage of girls participating in cookie season. She said the Girl Scouts of Citrus are down one-third the amount of sellers they usually have and leaving them with 216,000 boxes of unsold cookies on hand.

Jones said it is unprecedented to have this many cookies left right now, explaining that "normally our sale ends at the end of February, first week of March," but Girl Scout councils nationwide are having to extend their cookie seasons to try and sell the excess in cookies.

The Girl Scouts of Citrus tried pivoting because of the pandemic, offering online stores for each Girl Scout and delivery through GrubHub, but there is still a shortfall.

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Jones said the 216,000 boxes of unsold cookies represent about $1 million in funding. She said if they are not able to sell the cookies, it would significantly impact their operating budget, which they rely on to offset costs for Girl Scout experiences, badge work, and several programs, including the financial assistance program to benefit families with financial hardship.

However, Jones said there is still a lot of customer demand for cookies. Girl Scout Junior Divya Farmer has sold roughly 700 boxes of cookies this season, stating that "we sold at least 3 or 4 times more than we did last year."

She added that she is using a variety of new methods to sell cookies, including using door hangers and doing a drive-by cookie booth.

The money from the sales help the 10-year-old earn badges through learning valuable life and educational skills. Jones said the programs are vital for girls’ futures, telling FOX 35 that "we see little girls grow, come out of their shells and really expand what they were really able to see in previous years, like really expand their horizons."

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Jones is encouraging the community to buy Girl Scout cookies online, by phone, or at their office located at 342 N. Mills Avenue in Orlando.

"There’s a multitude of ways that you can help and whether they want to purchase them for themselves…We’re happy to donate them to our Second Harvest Food Bank, military. We’ve always donated to our first responders and we can also donate to our frontline medical workers," she said.

Online cookie sales are available through May 31. Jones said they are really encouraging businesses to buy cookies in bulk. They are also thinking of creative ways to sell cookies over the summer.

If you are interested in buying Girl Scout cookies visit the Girl Scouts of Citrus website.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.