• Heather Kerner founded The Good Crust last year, creating dough made with locally grown grains from Maine farmers and millers.
  • The social impact business also provide job skills training for youth with different needs and helps local nonprofits raise funds.

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Heather Kerner doesn’t call her Skowhegan, Maine company The Good Crust just because her dough tastes so delicious. She’s also doing good in the community, both for workers with differing abilities and for growers across the state.

Kerner is an occupational therapist, educator and experienced home baker. She is also painfully aware of the employment challenges faced by people with differing physical and cognitive abilities.

As a social impact entrepreneur, she founded The Good Crust last year to address that issue while also helping Maine’s farmers and millers.

”I really desired a pizza dough that would be made with 100% locally grown grains, and, at the same time, I saw a need for job training programs for youth who may have different needs,” Kerner told WABI-TV earlier this year.

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Kerner sells her dough to restaurants and wholesale stores across Maine. “That’s the really special thing about this dough, and it’s something that no one has done commercially,” Kerner told CentralMaine.com in January. “It is 100% Maine Grains products, which does require a little bit of technical experience and experimentation. One part of my mission is to use Maine agricultural products that directly support farmers and millers.”

At the same time, she’s teaching valuable job skills to people who might otherwise be unable to find employment. She collaborates with community rehabilitation providers, using her dough operation to provide work-based learning experiences and job skills training.

Kerner started out using local grains in educational programming in the Messalonskee school district. She directs programs within Regional School Unit 18 focused on life skills and vocational training, primarily for middle-schoolers.

“My whole career I’ve been practicing using something real-life, like food production or woodworking, for the learning of life skills,” Kerner told CentralMaine.com. “I have the full and generous support of my boss, who is the special education director.”

As part of its Raising Dough program, The Good Crust also provides its dough at a discount to nonprofits for their fundraisers. The dough can be used to make everything from pizzas and flatbreads to garlic knots and focaccia.

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