The Girl Scouts has become a surprising combatant in the war on junk food. Unfortunately, it may be on the wrong side.
Health advocates last week renewed their attacks on the organization following a licensing deal with Nestlé to co-brand candy bars. Critics also think the Girl Scouts should give up its 100-year-old cookie drive because it sends a bad message on nutrition to impressionable kids.
“It doesn’t make sense that an organization about girls’ well-being is using junk food to finance their organization,” said Margo Wootan, nutrition director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Despite the criticism, the Girl Scouts is unlikely anytime soon to give up its cookie sales or make changes to its licensing program.
“Some see our selling cookies or licensing any product like Nestlé candy bars as inconsistent, but our core program has healthy living initiatives woven throughout it,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a developmental psychologist who is part of the Girl Scouts’ national program team. “When people target us, they don’t have the full picture. The cookie program is not about cookies, but a way to teach girls entrepreneurial and financial literacy.”
Nestlé is one of several brands the Girl Scouts has partnered with, among them Build-A-Bear and Aspire Brands’ Lip Smacker.
“Protecting the brand is always at the top of our list. Nestlé builds awareness of our brand among parents,” said Karina Gee, Girl Scouts’ licensing manager.