Flex Out Hunger is a philanthropic event that was established over a decade ago on the campus of Virginia Tech, by the local Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) chapter. With the closing of the chapter at the beginning of last year, the execution of Flex Out Hunger was entrusted to Virginia Tech SEC in the Spring of 2017. Similar in name to the well-known national organization of Swipe Out Hunger, both share common endeavors. While the national organization aims to end “college hunger”, Flex Out serves to reduce the same issue, but within Virginia Tech’s local community altogether. To tackle this issue, the Virginia Tech SEC chapter has partnered with both the University Dining Services as well as a local non-profit called the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program.
The Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program was founded by a priest in 1975 and is a 100% volunteer organization. Located in the heart of the New River Valley in Southwest Virginia, its primary purpose is to help meet emergency needs of any individuals or families that live within the region. Resources provided range from clothing to financial assistance, as well as food provisions which is the basis of the Flex Out Hunger endeavor. Although the majority of their applicants fall within the pool of being handicapped, low-income, or unemployed, many are employees of the university and interact with the students on a daily basis.
Virginia Tech SEC’s first execution of Flex Out Hunger in the spring of 2017 saw enormous success, breaking all records previously set in the past decade by raising $27,500 from excess meal plan money alone. This money went directly to providing over 5,500 local families with 75-100 lbs of food. However, with the steady growth of the university and each freshman class, the goal for 2018 was set even higher at $30,000.
In the Spring of 2017, the chapter had only two months between news of the event being handed to them and the actual execution. This time around, there was much more time to prepare, and with more time came more innovation. For starters, the chapter formed an even closer bond with MCEAP as they committed to not only working with the organization outside of Flex Out, but they set plans to host food packaging events with the local Campus Kitchen prior to upcoming executions in order to help further spread awareness for food insecurity. The next innovation came with the development and hosting of a website flexouthunger.com as a source of informative marketing throughout the year. Lastly, came a tighter partnership with Virginia Tech Dining Services. Although the dining department has helped to assist with the finances from the beginning, this year saw an even closer relationship develop between the university and the chapter. Not only has the chapter continued to work with Dining Services, but efforts were spread to also include a partnership with Virginia Tech’s marketing division where they developed several new ways to spread awareness of the option to donate excess meal plan funds to this cause.
In the end, their continuous innovation and hard work paid off as the Spring of 2018 saw the best performance of the event in its history. Raising just over $35,500 in total, Virginia Tech SEC has not only proved that the philanthropy was entrusted in good hands, but their phenomenal success has allowed them to further build their reputation and exemplify SigEp’s cardinal principles through what has become one of the most iconic philanthropic events at Virginia Tech. The chapter has already begun to plan for next year’s Flex Out Hunger as they utilize feedback from both the university and its students alike who have all shown a great love and passion for the work that the chapter continues to perform with the MCEAP and in the local community as a whole.