The Fresh Grocer plans to open five stores in underserved communities over the next couple of years.

The Drexel Hill, Pa.-based retailer said the initiative is a formal commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America, aimed to help fight childhood obesity.

Carly Spross, a spokeswoman for The Fresh Grocer, said the first of the new stores is scheduled for October 2012 in New Brunswick, N.J., in the New Brunswick Wellness Plaza. The second store is planned for Washington, D.C., near Howard University.The Fresh Grocer plans new stores in food deserts

The new stores, planned for around 46,000 square feet, have all the same features as the company’s other locations, Spross said, including fresh produce, full-service meat departments, seafood, in-store bakeries, prepared foods and coffee bars.

“The Fresh Grocer has been a leader in the healthy food movement and has been bringing access to healthy and affordable foods to underserved areas for over a decade,” Spross said. “In 2009 alone, we put an end to two of Philadelphia’s food deserts with the opening of new full service supermarkets and also created over 500 jobs.”

The Fresh Grocer has seven locations currently, Philadelphia and surrounding communities including Wilmington, Del.