by Heidi L. Everett
It’s that time of year again. For melt-in-your-mouth Thin Mints. That chewy-goodness of Caramel Delights. And lemon.
Izzy Neisen of St. Joseph loves this time of year. Why?
“Making people happy that they get cookies,” she said.
Now in fourth grade, this 10 year old has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. She’s a member of Troop 98, with girls from Sartell, St. Joseph, and St. Cloud.
While Caramel Delights have been her favorite, this year there’s a new cookie coming to town.
“It’s called Toast-Yay,” she explains. “It’s a French-toast inspired cookie.”
And if you haven’t yet placed your pre-order for cookies, which started Feb. 1, have no fear. You have time – and options – for getting ahold of that cookie goodness.
This year, Girl Scouts will be adding GrubHub to the distribution mix.
“It’s a thing that delivers,” Izzy explained.
Girl Scouts is committed to unleashing the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl, preparing her for a lifetime of leadership. Over this past year, the organization is really making good on that commitment as young entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways of selling cookies in the COVID-19 era.
Beginning Feb. 16, people can order Girl Scout Cookies for pickup or delivery on Grubhub.com or through the Grubhub app, said Nancy McMullen, director of marketing, communications and customer care for Girl Scouts Lakes & Pines.
“Local Girl Scouts will track and fulfill orders, manage inventory and more, all using Grubhub’s back-end technology,” she said. “This innovative method keeps girls at the center of every sale while providing another way to safely run the cookie program virtually. As always, each and every purchase still benefits girls in our local area.”
Jessica Messerich, cookie manager for Troop 636 in Sauk Rapids, had used a delivery service like GrubHub for lunch at a work staff meeting.
“The GrubHub piece is kind of a work in progress,” she said. “But we are excited to have the opportunity to get cookies to families in any way we can while keeping our kids safe and our communities safe.”
Cookie pre-orders started Feb. 1, and Girl Scouts will begin delivering pre-orders Feb. 13.
“These orders will mostly go to neighbors and things that they can just drop at the door,” Jessica said.
Cookie booths also will start popping up Feb. 13, but in a limited capacity. Indoor booth space Girl Scouts have relied on to sell cookies in the past – like movie theaters and big-box stores – is not as readily available.
While outdoor booths are an option, the girls will be socially distanced at six feet apart with masks on when they sell. Plus, only two Girl Scouts will be allowed at each booth.
Kelly Neisen, Izzy’s mom, is troop leader.
“This year is trickier,” she said. “It will be a little more challenging, but our girls will rise to the occasion.”
Kelly said troops are looking for other creative ways to distribute cookies in a safe manner, like using GrubHub and having drive-up booths. Rethinking cookie sales and distribution is not new this year.
“In 2020, booths were shut down in the middle of cookie sales because of COVID,” she said. “Troops purchase cookies ahead of time. Whatever we purchase, we are responsible for. If we can’t move them all, we are responsible for them. What do we do with these cookies?”
The Girl Scouts organization did a really good job of getting creative last season, Kelly said.
This year’s cookie season is a time for innovation again.
Starting Feb. 16, people can go through GrubHub to locate Girl Scout Cookies near them for pickup or delivery. GrubHub sales will be credited to local troops.
When Girl Scouts sell cookies, 60 cents per box goes directly to the troop, Kelly said. That money is used to help pay for things like camp, troop renewal fees, books, badges and uniforms.
“Through cookie sales, our troop is self-reliant,” Kelly said.
Annual cookie sales aren’t the only aspect of Girl Scouts that have been disrupted because of the pandemic. Monthly meetings and activities have moved online.
“It’s been a challenge with Zoom meetings,” Jessica said. “Keeping kids engaged after they’ve been online all day for school is not fun. They want to run around and be together.”
Kelly’s troop used to meet twice a month in person, but that has changed.
“We now have virtual meetings once a month because the girls have enough screen time with what’s going on,” she said.
Girl Scout families have pitched in too, driving around to distribute monthly meeting materials or hosting a contactless pick up on somebody’s porch, Jessica said.
Local Girl Scouts are still earning their badges for things like coding, cooking and exploring the outdoors. Some activities are over Zoom. Some are done with family rather than the troops.
Right now, though, the focus is on cookies sales – and earning money for camp.
“At horse camp, we got to ride the horses in circles and then weave,” Izzy said. “You can make friendship bracelets and do a ropes course. I actually had a lot of fun.”