The struggling economy has impacted many, and students are no exception. Upon returning to school last month, some students were outraged to learn that the price of the cafeteria’s fresh-baked cookies had doubled from 25 cents to 50 cents.
The price hike prompted one teen to organize what quickly manifested into a boycott of the cookies. Hundreds of Buffalo Grove students have joined a Facebook group called “ BGSACI - Buffalo Grove Students Against Cookie Inflation.”
“I started the group as a joke,” admitted Mikey Diamond, a senior.
But others clearly think the cookie price is no laughing matter. After two weeks, the group has attracted nearly 800 members — more than one-third of the student body. When Diamond's friend at heard about the group, he created one for his own classmates, who are also suffering from cookie price inflation. The Wheeling group has attracted nearly 600 members.
“It literally just exploded,” Diamond said.
Buffalo Grove senior Miguel Melgar was soon at Diamond’s side, serving as a boycott leader.
“I’m pretty big on political activism,” said Melgar, a member of the school’s speech team. “I just figured, why not go cookie? We might as well pick a cause that affects everybody.”
Diamond, a member of the Student Council, said he considers the boycott students’ revenge on the school's various measures that he deems oppressive, including a recent crackdown on those who arrive late to class, and price increases on other lunchroom and vending machine snacks.
“The cookie thing is our outlet to get back at the school,” he said. “It’s not a ‘critical cause,’ but it’s a cause, and people like to fight for something.”
Judging from the many comments posted by the Facebook group members, he’s right.
“25 cents increase might not seem like that large of an amount, but adding it over time it adds up,” one student wrote.
“i got 2 cookies everyday last year, now bg has crushed my dream of doing just that,” another teen posted.
Both Meglar and Diamond admit that they miss the gooey cookies that Melgar described as “a staple of Buffalo Grove culture.”
“I was a daily buyer,” Diamond said.
“I’d buy at least four cookies a day,” added Melgar, who said he’d consume one and share the others with classmates. “It was my way of giving back. I got priced out of that,” he said.
Upon discovering that cookie prices had doubled, both students they have “absolutely not” purchased a single cookie this year.
“They look good, too,” Diamond said. “They look just as good.”
Melgar said he’s been told that cookie sales are now a fraction of what they have been in years past. Both teens hope that declining sales will make the school rethink its prices.
“You can raise everything else, but not the cookies,” Diamond said.
The teens took their effort a step further last week when they began taking orders for cookie boycott T-shirts.
Inspired by the “Change” logo that Barack Obama used on his presidential campaign posters, the front of the shirt features a chocolate chip cookie above the word “Delicious.” The back proclaims, “Twice the price, that’s not nice,” alongside “an angry Cookie Monster face,” Melgar said.
The students are collecting pre-orders for $12. Once the shirts are printed, they plan to raise the price to $15. About 50 people have paid for shirts already, they said, adding that they plan to donate proceeds to charity.
They plan to announce certain days and events at which students should wear the T-shirts. While they hope the effort will gain the attention of school officials, they haven’t ruled out further efforts, such as writing letters to District 214 officials.
“Students have voices, too,” Melgar said. “They may not be able to vote, but just because you can’t take the formal route to political change doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact on a local level.”
“It’s starts with a cookie; it ends wherever you choose,” he said.
A District 214 spokeswoman and a dean at Buffalo Grove High School, who the teens said backs their efforts, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
One Buffalo Grove parent said she understands the students’ financial concerns. While she waited for her daughter to order a T-shirt from the organizers, who had set up shop along Dundee Road, she spoke of rising student activity fees and the high unemployment rate.
“Too many people are out of work,” said the mother, who declined to give her name.
Although Diamond said he still can’t believe his Facebook group, which he launched as a joke, began a full-fledged campaign, he agrees with Melgar that the grassroots effort is a good way for teens to affect change.
“What if years from now, gas goes from $4 to $8?” Diamond said. “It’s lying on our shoulders.”
As students trickled in, eager to fork over $12 for a T-shirt to voice their opposition to the 25-cent cookie price increase, Diamond noted that the effort could resonate with students for years to come.
“Hopefully 20 years from now at the reunion, they’ll say, “You guys are the cookie group!” he said.