(Video courtesy of Atlanta Community Food Bank)

Thousands of needy residents in the Atlanta area found an unusual treat when they went to food banks and pantries the third week of October — fresh produce.

Exhibitors at the Produce Marketing Association’s 2011 Fresh Summit donated more than 316,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Atlanta Community Food Bank following the trade show. The food bank is one of 200 in the Feeding America network.

PMA's fresh produce floods Atlanta food banksIn a news release from PMA, Bill Bolling, executive director of the local food bank, said it took months to plan the logistics for such a large donation of perishable food. It took a fleet of trucks and more than 200 volunteers to distribute the fresh produce to 140 partner agencies involved in the Atlanta area network.

Bolling said in the release the donation went a long way toward helping the food bank meet its goal of increasing the amount of fresh produce it offers. He said the donation from the Fresh Summit show was a perfect example of how the food industry can make a difference.

PMA's fresh produce floods Atlanta food banks“This gives our agencies an opportunity to handle the best of the best in fruits and vegetables,” Bolling said. “The key for us is that it isn’t just about how many pounds of food we can get out, but the type of food and whether or not it is healthy. With this donation, we know a lot of people will be enjoying foods they don’t often get a chance to try.”

Bolling founded the Atlanta community food Bank in 1979. It now distributes more than 30 million pounds of food annually to people in 38 counties. For the food bank’s 2011 fiscal year, which ended in June, it distributed 34% more food and grocery products than it did the previous year.