Fraternity-organized Flex Out Hunger donation program proves successful once again

Left to right are: Chris Hemler, of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, a junior finance major in the Pamplin College of Business; Rhonda Sexton, from the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program; and Rick Johnson director of housing and dining services.

Left to right are: Chris Hemler, of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, a junior finance major in the Pamplin College of Business; Rhonda Sexton, from the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program; and Rick Johnson director of housing and dining services.

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 12, 2009 – The brothers of the Virginia Tech chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity raised $10,401.34 for the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program (MCEAP) through the annual Flex Out Hunger program.

Each year, since 2001, the fraternity has organized Flex Out Hunger. Many students have a balance remaining on their dining plans at the end of the spring semester, and the Flex Out Hunger program gives them the opportunity to donate that money to help others in the community.

“As Virginia Tech students, Montgomery County has given us so much, and it is great to have this opportunity to give back,” said Chris Hemler of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, a junior finance major in the Pamplin College of Business and 2009 SAE philanthropy chair.

Tables were set up on the university’s campus at Dietrick plaza, Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill & Co., Squires Food Court, and West End Market for students to donate their leftover Flex Dollars to MCEAP. The money collected was donated to the MCEAP in nearby Christiansburg to help buy food, diapers, and baby formula for New River Valley families in need.

Virginia Tech’s dining plans are based on a declining balance system of Flex Dollars, which provide dining plan holder discounts on all food purchased in campus dining centers.

Flex Out Hunger at Virginia Tech began in the fall of 2000 as a partnership between SAE and Dining Services, a department within the Division of Student Affairs. Modeled after a program at Washington University, that raises nearly $20,000 annually, the goal of Flex Out Hunger is to provide an easy way for Virginia Tech students to donate money to the local community.

Mark Lukehart, SAE philanthropy chair during the 2000-01 academic year, worked with Rick Johnson, director of Housing and Dining Services, to develop a proposal to implement the program at Virginia Tech. It was approved on March 29, 2001.

“Flex Out Hunger has been such a successful program because of its ease and impact,” said Hemler. “Having the ability to donate your extra meal plan money for a good cause is quite extraordinary.”

Since its implementation in 2001, Flex Out Hunger has raised over $100,000 for the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program. Other SAE philanthropies include triathlons to raise money for national organizations such as the Leukemia Society and coaching a Blacksburg little league football team last fall.

Fraternity and Sorority Life and Housing and Dining Services are both departments within the Division of Student Affairs.