Tami Hedrick, newly named national development director of Matter, is leading the St. Louis Park-based international nonprofit's efforts to expand national distribution of the organization's Matterbox healthy snack packs.

Hedrick is developing a strategic plan for the Matterbox expansion effort and identifying key markets to target for distribution. Hedrick is working with the national network of business and sports contacts that she built over almost 24 seasons working with the Minnesota Vikings, most recently as director of women's initiatives, strategic development and cheerleading.

The coronavirus pandemic in part led to the idea to expand the Matterbox program beyond the Twin Cities to reach children out of school, essential workers, people experiencing homelessness and isolated seniors in other communities, Hedrick said. Matter distributed nearly 213,000 meals last year and hopes to exceed 300,000 this year. Matter also works with volunteers, corporations and other organizations to offer sustainable agriculture tools and training and educational programs and redistribute medical equipment and supplies to 40 countries.

"We've narrowed our mission to one simple statement: We help people launch projects that improve communities," Hedrick said. "We believe that actions change the world so we want to inspire, encourage and help people take action."

Matter is seeking businesses or individual volunteers to pack Matterbox kits to distribute locally or return to Matter for distribution. The kits, each of which contains materials to fill 50 healthy snack packets, are available through Matter's website.

"Tami will play a key role introducing the Matterbox as an easy way for organizations throughout the United States to give back to their local communities while engaging their employees," Matter President Quenton Marty said in a release.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Matterbox program?

A: My goal is to take what Matter has developed with Matterbox and expand that across the country. I've been lucky with all of my different roles in my career to have contacts all across America. I've worked with some of the greatest companies and greatest people and now I get to circle back to them and say let's do something great together. It's going to benefit your community, your company's going to love to be involved and it's going to make a difference.

Q: Was a nonprofit opportunity a priority for you?

A: I have a passion for nonprofits. My husband and I took our honeymoon to Haiti with Healing Haiti and did our mission trip. I was volunteer of the year with the American Heart Association and have volunteered with them for over 15 years. It wasn't something I necessarily was searching for but I was so excited when Quenton presented the offer to me, that this was something that they wanted me to do.

Q: How did you get involved in working in professional sports?

A: I was a dance major at the University of Minnesota. I coached a high school dance team and coached college. I could have taken a contract to travel around the world and dance or I could stay home and teach dance and maybe try out for the Vikings or Timberwolves. I tried out and made it on my first try. I was on the team one year and then the next took over as the director of cheerleading. Later I took on their youth cheer programs and it kept growing from there.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.