FRESH milk, bread, butter and cheese will be temporarily added to food packages handed out to people struggling across East Lothian.

East Lothian Foodbank has launched the ambitious initiative which aims to put nutrition firmly on the agenda in its fight to tackle food insecurity in the county.

BeGreen Dunbar, funded by Community Windpower, has provided a one-off donation of £8,000.

The money will be spent on perishable food items that the foodbank, which is based in Tranent, has never been able to supply.

The grant allows the foodbank to supply 800 Get Fresh Bonus Bags to families across the county. Organised in conjunction with Prestonpans-based fresh food initiative Roots & Fruits, the bags will contain fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, fresh milk (not UHT as normal), cheese and butter, to the value of £8 per Bonus Bag.

Peter Dicker, foodbank manager, said: “We’re proud to say that every food parcel we send out is nutritionally balanced, and we have been supplying apples and some fresh vegetables whenever possible for the last two years now. But this amazing grant from BeGreen Dunbar allows us to provide, for the first time ever, fresh ingredients that most people take for granted as fridge essentials.

“To be able to give local families in need fresh milk, bread, butter and cheese really will be a bonus for them.

“We can only do this while we have this extra money – it would be even better to know that we could always provide such healthy fresh ingredients. To be able to have a cheese sandwich and an apple for lunch when your food parcel arrives is quick, easy, filling and nutritious.

“Tesco in Haddington have been very supportive, donating hundreds of sturdy shopping bags for this project, so I’d like to thank them.”

Meanwhile, the foodbank is carrying out collections at the county’s three Tesco stores on Wednesday.

The group is always in need of long-life milk, long-life juice, tinned fruit and tinned vegetables but can only accept donations of non-perishable foods from the pubic.

Donations can be made at libraries, Tesco stores and churches, or at the foodbank on any weekday morning.