Independent to Open Five Food-Desert Stores

DREXEL HILL, Pa. — The Fresh Grocer, a seven-store operator in the Philadelphia area, announced a commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to increase access to healthy, affordable food in underserved "food desert" communities by opening five new full-service supermarkets over the next five years.

The announcement was made at PHA's Inaugural Childhood Obesity Summit in Washington.

The five new Fresh Grocers will sell a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, and fresh prepared food products, serving approximately 795,000 people and creating approximately 1,000 jobs. In 2012, The Fresh Grocer will open its first new location — a 48,000-square-foot store — in the New Brunswick Wellness Plaza in New Brunswick, N.J., a neighborhood that has been without a full-service supermarket for over 20 years.

"We are excited to join the Partnership for a Healthier America as a partner to fight childhood obesity," said Patrick J. Burns, president and chief executive officer of The Fresh Grocer, in a statement.

The Fresh Grocer is not new to the food desert issue. In 2009, under the auspices of Pennsylvania's Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), the retailer opened two new supermarkets in Philadelphia, one near La Salle University and the other at Progress Plaza, two of the city's largest food deserts.