RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A David Goldstein investigation reveals that more than 13,000 boxes of perfectly fine Girl Scout cookies were trashed -- rather than donated.
Goldstein has video of a tractor trashing the cookies before they were sent to a landfill.
"Listen," he says, "as a worker gleefully cheers it on."
Says the worker, "Goodbye, Girl Scout cookies!"
The video was taken last May. But sources tell Goldstein this practice has been going on for years -- these cookies were leftovers.
The cookies were well within their expiration date. They still had shelf life.
Why are they destroyed instead of donated?
Pastor Cathy Purden of the Rock of the Valley Church in Van Nuys says, "That's something those children could have had, cookies."
The congregation prays for food. They feed 50-60 people once a week using food donations. Pastor Purden says she would have gladly accepted the cookies. "You stop and think about how many little children would be excited if you gave them a box of Girl Scout cookies. I would be excited. I buy them."
Goldstein traced the trashed cookies to the San Gorgonio Council of the Girl Scouts in Redlands.
He asks Chuck MacKinnon of San Gorgonio Girl Scouts, "You didn't know the cookies were being destroyed"?
MacKinnon says, "We didn't know that was the way they were being disposed of, no."
Goldstein asks, "What goes through your mind when you see all these cookies (being thrown away?)"
MacKinnon says, "To look at it, it's a waste of food."
He says it's their supplier, ABC Bakery, that destroyed the cookies. He explains the Scouts ordered too many boxes but are allowed to only return one percent of the unsold cookies back to the bakery without paying for them.
Eleven-hundred cases trashed, 13,200 boxes in all.
Goldstein says, "Aren't you just passing the buck to the bakery? And laying the blame on the bakery? It was your council that over ordered?"
MacKinnon replies, "No, I don't see it that way. But if that's the way someone wants to take a look at it."
Goldstein shoots back. "Couldn't you have purchased those 1100 cases -- and donated them?"
Admits MacKinnon, "We certainly could have."
Goldstein made several attempts to get a response from Richmond, Virginia-based ABC Bakery but they refused comment. They referred Goldstein to Girl Scout headquarters in New York.
A spokesperson says there is no national policy on what to do with unsold cookies saying "it's a shame" what happened in Riverside.
Sadly, food is wasted all the time.
Goldstein showed the cookie-trashing video to Bruce Rankin of the Westside Food Bank.
Obviously he hates to see food wasted. "We would have gladly accepted the cookies and they would probably disappear as fast as any product we have in here," says Rankin.
MacKinnon tells Goldstein that after seeing the cookie trashing, things will change. "Is it the Girl Scout way? No. Did it happen? Yes. Will it happen again? No."
He says they will stop ordering more cookies than they sell.
San Gorgonio also wants to make it clear they often donate unsold cookies -- more than 100,000 boxes last year alone.
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