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Oct. 28, 2016

 

For the last five years, Indy Metro Church has been
investing in students at Arsenal Technical High School by way of their
stomachs.

 

Pastor Aaron Story along with his wife, members of the
church — and support from several community partners — have been preparing and
serving homemade meals to the school’s football team. From meatball subs with a
side of fruit, chips and a cookie to loaded baked potatoes, tacos and chili, the
60-plus student athletes (and coaches) enjoy a nutritious meal the night before
each game.

 

Indy Metro Church “They’re eating good” said Story. “I want these kids to eat
as well as I want my own kids to eat. … Ultimately, we want to make sure the
kids get the nutrition needed — if only one meal a week — to be able to
compete.”

 

“It’s a
wonderful program,” said Head Football Coach Tony Henderson. “Tech is the third
IPS high school that I have coached at and something like this was NOT an
occurrence at the other two schools. … I know that my team will leave campus
with a full belly 24 hours before kick-off. They aren’t leaving with a Faygo
grape and a bag of hot fries. The meals are hearty and meant to stick to their
ribs.”

 

In the past, the meals would go on hiatus when football
season ended and resume during fall of the next school year. But Story knows
there’s a need to do more and he’s willing to answer the call — even if he’s
not quite sure how he’s going to make it happen.

 

Beginning Dec. 1, Indy Metro Church will feed all of
Arsenal Tech’s student athletes. That’s potentially hundreds of athletes every
Thursday.

 

“If there’s an athlete on Tech’s campus training, studying,
practicing, whatever, they can eat a Thursday night meal,” said Story. “It’s
hard to pick a great day for everybody, so we’re just going to stick with
Thursday.”

 

Logistically — and financially — Indy Metro Church can’t do
this alone. So Story is looking to increase the number of people, groups and
organizations to help with the weekly meals. That can consist of a group or
organization being responsible for an entire meal or even parts of that meal.
In the past, some groups have provided that week’s drinks or desserts. Every
little bit helps.

 

Although it seems like a daunting task right now, Story is
prayerful that everything will come together.

 

“We’re going to do this, even if I can’t tell you how right
now,” said Story, who has four children — three of whom attend IPS schools. “It’s
about who’s going to come to the table. I’m just trusting that the Lord will work
it out and send people (who want to help).”

 

While the weekly meals are a major initiative, it’s not the
only connection that Indy Metro Church has to Tech students. The church also
conducts a leadership program and an after-school Bible study for the school’s
football players. The Bible study, called Food 4 the Soul, is optional, with around
40 players attending.

 

“The
players get a chance, behind closed doors, to express both the positives and
frustrations from their day-to-day lives. I often step out the room during
these sessions because I want the players to feel full freedom to discuss
anything,” said Henderson. “The ‘Food 4 the Soul’ aspect is more important to
the needs of these student athletes than the meal. We are very grateful
and thankful for all of the blessings.”

 

However, just like the meals, the other programs that Indy
Metro Church provides at Tech allow for a direct connection with students to
show that the community cares for and supports them.

 

“Practically, it’s a way to show some love,” said Story, who
is looking for those willing to donate to the meal program to also serve those
meals.

 

“We want people to be there to look the kids in the eye to
say and show that we’re proud of them, that we’re there for them and that we
want them to be successful on and off the field and court. And that’s a big
part of this as well,” said Story.

 

Having that consistent adult interaction is key for students
at Tech, according to Principal Julie Bakehorn, who said many of her students
don’t get that on a regular basis.

 

“The goal is for the athletes to see the same faces each week show up to
feed them and to support them, to build a safety net for them,” said Bakehorn. “Of
course they love the food, but it’s more than just  feeding them, it’s
about building relationships with them that will undergird them through high
school and beyond.”

 

Those
weekly meals also provide sustenance for Story. “They bring me pure joy. It’s
the best part of my week, honestly,” he said.

 

In
preparation for the Dec. 1 meal for all of Tech’s athletes, Indy Metro Church
is taking a one-month break to create everything from meal plans to schedules and
to increase the number of volunteers and donations.

 

If
you’re interested in helping with the meal program, email Pastor Aaron Story at
aaron.story@gmail.com.