Riverside, CA-- The sale of Girl Scout cookies is a beloved annual event, but what happens to the unsold treats after the sales are over?
Many of them are destroyed.
A video report released Thursday by CBS Los Angeles shows more than 13,000 boxes of leftover Girl Scout cookies being trashed, leading some to question why the perfectly fine treats were not donated to people in need.
The footage shows a tractor crushing thousands of boxes of the beloved treats in a Riverside, Calilf., warehouse last May. A worker can be heard in the background cheering, "Goodbye, Girl Scout cookies!"
Sources told CBS LA that this is not an isolated case -- that leftover cookies have been headed to the landfill, well before their expiration date, for years.
Why are they destroyed instead of donated?
Pastor Cathy Purden of the Rock of the Valley Church in Van Nuys said, "That's something those children could have had, cookies."
Purden's congregation relies on food donations to feed 50-60 people a week and, Purden says, they 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."
CBS Los Angeles traced the trashed cookies to the San Gorgonio Council of the Girl Scouts in Redlands, Calif. When questioned about the video, Chuck MacKinnon, the vice president of the council, denied knowing anything about it.
"We didn't know that was the way they were being disposed of, " MacKinnon said. "To look at it, it's a waste of food."
He said it is their supplier, ABC Bakery, that was responsible. The Scouts ordered too many boxes, he explained, but are allowed to return one percent of the unsold cookies back to the bakery without paying for them.
That one percent translates to eleven hundred cases -- 13,200 boxes of cookies in all.
When asked why no one purchased and donated the 1,100 cases, MacKinnon admitted, "We certainly could have."
The Richmond, Va.-based ABC Bakery declined to comment on the story, but a spokesperson for Girl Scout headquarters in New York said there is no national policy on what to do with unsold cookies.
"It's a shame what happened in Riverside," said Michelle Tompkins of Girl Scouts of the USA, "but food is wasted all the time."
MacKinnon said that the cookie-trashing will not be repeated and vowed that the Council would no longer order more than they could sell.
The San Gorgonio Council also wants to make it clear they often donate unsold cookies -- more than 100,000 boxes last year alone.
Sources: CBS News, CBS Los Angeles