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Unique food drive to be held at the Old Idaho Penitentiary this weekend

People will be able to drive their vehicles into the Sally Port and drop off their donations.

BOISE, Idaho — For the first time in its history, administrators at the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise are opening up the Sally Port to the public as part of a food drive. 

The Idaho State Historical Society created a four-day food drive at the Old Pen to help fill St. Vincent de Paul food pantries and the Idaho Foodbank.
Organizers says this is a rare opportunity for donors to also experience the Old Idaho Penitentiary and help Idahoans who are struggling to feed their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're excited about this program for so many reasons, including the fact that Idahoans making donations will have an unprecedented chance to bring their vehicle into the Sally Port and then drive around a portion of the prison grounds," said Amber Beierle, Historic Sites Administrator for ISHS. 

Vehicles can drive into the port, built as a secured load-unload station for the prison, and drop off donations then move on through into the prison grounds and visit some of the rest of the facility. 

The event begins Friday, runs all weekend and concludes Monday night.

People can donate food and money.  All proceeds and donations will go directly to these organizations.

"As Idahoans struggle to meet basic needs, we are grateful to the Idaho State Historical Society for their efforts to raise awareness around hunger. The coronavirus has triggered a rapid increase in the demand for food. Many in our communities are facing hunger for the first time due to the sudden loss of income and school closures," said Karen Vauk, President and CEO of The Idaho Foodbank.

The limited reopening of the Old Pen is part of the agency's staged reopening plan approved by Gov. Little.

Here are the details for donations:

The agency will set up a food and cash donation drop inside the Old Pen. Anyone in a vehicle with at least five cans of food and $5 in cash will be allowed into the Sally Port and then the prison grounds.

Idahoans donating to the food drive should enter at the Old Pen's historic Sally Port, the secure gate on the northside that was built in 1931 to accommodate shipments coming into and out of the prison.

  • Vehicles that meet size restrictions will then be allowed to enter and take a loop through the prison grounds. 
  • Vehicles should have no more than four occupants, and individuals must adhere to guidelines for social distancing. 
  • Vehicle occupants must also be from the same household and not have an illness or in the process of recovering from an illness.
  • Vehicles can be no more than 8-feet wide and 9-feet high to be able to drive through the Sally Port. 
  • Vehicles bigger that don't fit through the port can still drop off donations to staff and volunteers located outside the prison walls.
  • Only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed into the prison grounds at one time, which could mean wait times.
  • Photo opportunities are available, but occupants must stay inside their vehicles at all times unless instructed by staff and volunteers. Buildings within the prison walls will not be open to the public.

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