PINE RIDGE S.D. — Pine Ridge’s newest grocery store opened its doors to the public on Tuesday.
Buche Foods, located in the heart of Pine Ridge Village, looks to enrich the community with better, more accessible food.
“I think its a tremendous step forward,” said RF Buche, the president of Buche Foods. “I think this is a great grocery store and these people certainly deserve it.”
The store also sells hardware and auto parts. Buche Foods replaces the old Sioux Nation store in the same spot. Last year, the Oglala Sioux Tribe voted to award the contract to Buche Foods instead of Hi-Way 20. In 2012, Sioux Nation was shut down temporarily after it was cited for selling expired meat to the public.
On Tuesday, many in attendance for the grand opening were optimistic about the grocery store’s operations, saying it could set an example for businesses and young people in the community.
“We can have something to depend on something as good as this, where its the new management, and its good for our younger generation because they see we can run businesses like this,” said Wayslynn Ghost Bear, a customer.
Buche also said that in the past month, workers and contractors have fought through blizzards and flooding to get the store up and running. He thanked them and their hard work for getting the store open on time.
Community leaders said the opening of Buche Foods marks a new chapter in the fight against food insecurity on the Reservation. According to Karin Eagle with Oglala Sioux Tribe Media Relations, in recent years, the reservation has lacked healthy affordable food.
“We have small community stores on the reservation, but they only address the necessities,” Eagle said. “A lot of time that includes cost effective convenience foods, and that’s not healthy.’
Buche Foods also looks to change the way people eat on the reservation. Coolers line the sides of the store filled with fresh produce, including organic options. Buche also sells gluten-free options as well.
About 80 people work at Buche Foods most of them worked at the Sioux Nation store.
(An earlier version of this story stated the Sioux Nation store closed because of health code violations)