The Pueblo of Zuni is currently considered to be in a food desert, a community without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food, as defined by the USDA. The new store will carry a wider variety of grocery products including fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and fish.
The Gallup, New Mexico-based Pinnacle Bank worked with the owners of the century-old grocery store being replaced, and the administrators of Zuni Pueblo, to secure a $2,750,000 loan to the Halona Marketplace backed by a guarantee from USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry (B&I)guaranteed loan program.
The modern supermarket within the 20,400-square-foot facility, coming in fall 2017, will replace a 112-year-old building currently being used as the main grocery store by the 11,000 residents of Zuni Pueblo.
Just before the groundbreaking ceremony, USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Eric Vigil was invited to speak to the crowd of about a hundred people attending the event. “The construction of this facility shows Rural Development’s commitment to continue our partnership with the residents of Zuni to provide you with a better lifestyle,” Vigil said. “USDA Rural Development is available to finance your housing, business, and infrastructure needs.”
The owners of the new supermarket also qualified for funding through Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which will make the new facility more energy efficient. USDA Rural Development is providing a $49,211 grant to offset the cost of the $197,000 needed to purchase the energy efficient refrigeration equipment, display cases and walk-in coolers for the supermarket. The purchase of this equipment will save 69,028 kWh of electricity which is enough to power six average homes for an entire year.