Meal Dana FAQ

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Hello! Anumodana for your kind generosity. This page, in combination with the Meal Offering page and the Local Alms page, is to help provide answers to questions you might have about offering a meal to Pacific Hermitage monks. This information is regularly updated, so please check back every now and again to see if there are changes. 

Should you still have any further questions after reading this, please email the hermitage dana coordinator at dana@pacifichermitage.org

Below is the list of all the questions answered on this page, with all the answers further below. You can quickly jump to specific answers by clicking on the links.

How much and what should I bring when offering a meal to the monks?

How many monk are there in residence at the Hermitage?
How many meals per day can the monks consume, and when?
Do any of the monks have food allergies?
Are there any food preferences or restrictions the monks have?

When can I visit, and what are the meal offering protocols?

When can I visit the Hermitage to offer a meal?
Do I have to offer a meal to visit the Hermitage?
What are the protocol for weekend meal offerings? Are there special rules during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Can I offer other items besides food for the meal?

Do the monks need other food items aside from the meal offering food?
Are there other non-food and material goods needed?

How many monks are in residence at the Hermitage?

There are normally 3 monks living at the Hermitage. Sporadically, there may only be one or two monks, or more than 3 when other monastics visit, but the usual number is 3. Please check the dana calendar about a week before your scheduled visit and you will see the accurate number of monks in residence displayed on the calendar.

How many meals per day can the monks consume, and when?

According to the Vinaya (the code of conduct for Buddhist monastics), monks are allowed to eat between dawn and midday. In the summertime midday can be as late as 1:00 PM due to the longer days, while in the wintertime, the meal must be consumed by noon. At the Hermitage, the monks typically eat only one meal at 11:00 AM. Thus, they typically eat more than an average person who consumes three meals a day would eat. Please consider this (and how many monks are in residence) when determining how much food to bring.

Do any of the monks have food allergies?

There are currently no monks at the Hermitage who have food allergies or sensitivities.

Are there any food preferences or restrictions the monks have?

The monks are grateful for whatever food is offered for their daily sustenance. However, the Buddha listed certain foods that the monks may not consume. These foods include raw meat (for example sushi), or meat from an animal that was specifically killed to offer to the monks – for example, if someone slaughtered a chicken (or had one slaughtered) exclusively for the sake of the monks. 

An aspect of the monks’ training rules is to receive whatever food is offered. After receiving the food they can decide what foods they wish to individually consume. Some monks are vegetarian and some monks eat meat. Please feel free to bring whatever food you are comfortable with offering.

If you have any questions about food items allowed, please ask the monks about these rules when you visit with them.

If you’re curious:

To learn more about the monastic rules that guide when and what the monks can eat, you might find the below resources of interest (but not necessary for offering meal dana).

When can I visit the Hermitage to offer a meal?

On the weekends, visitors may arrive around 10:15 am and stay until 1:30 pm. Please check the calendar and sign up for when you would like to bring a meal by emailing the dana coordinator at dana@pacifichermitage.org. All are welcome! If there are already one or several people signed up on the Dana Calendar for a particular day, visitors are still welcome to join the event and should not worry that they are encroaching on another person’s meal dana offering.

What are the weekend meal offering visiting protocols? Are there special rules during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The meal is typically offered to the receiving monk by 11:00 AM. Once the meal has been offered, the monks will chant a blessing, and then take their meals inside. You are then welcome to take your meal and eat outside (there are tent covers when there is inclement weather). Once the monks have finished the meal, they will rejoin you outside to visit, usually around noon.

NOTE: Although meal offerings may be brought to the Hermitage any day of the week, it is only on the weekends that the monks receive guests after the meal.

For the safety and well-being of all, there are additional protocols required during the pandemic. The latest safety protocols are listed on the meal offering page. Please make sure to review these before visiting, as the situation continues to change.

Do I have to offer a meal to visit the Hermitage?

No, you do not. On the weekends, if you would like to visit the monks without participating in the meal offering, you may do so by arriving at noon. Please note that this is not possible on the weekdays.

Do the monks need food items other than the meal? (“allowables”)

In the Theravada Tradition, monks are allowed to consume “tonics” or what are also called “allowables” in the afternoon/evening/early morning to stave off weakness or illness. Once received, these items may be stored for up to seven days. (Some types of allowables may be stored for longer.)

Allowable items commonly offered at the Pacific Hermitage include:

  • Plain dark chocolate (without food items such as nuts; dried fruit, milk, etc.). It is okay if the ingredients state: “May contain traces of . . .”. Any percentage of chocolate is okay.
  • Cheese of any kind
  • Soy milk
  • Coffee (whole bean is more useful)
  • Tea (caffeinated or herbal)
  • Other beverages like sparkling water, kombucha, etc.

If you are interested, you can read this explanation of the Vinaya rule about “tonics”. These tonics include: honey, sugar, molasses, butter/ghee and other oils, cheese and plain dark chocolate.

Are there other non-food and material goods needed?

The monks can sometimes use regular household items. These items are posted on the Support Page under the title: “Needed and Useful Material Items.” The needed items can be brought to the Hermitage or sent via any type of US parcel service. Please use this specific form of address if you send a package: The Pacific Hermitage, 65 Barnedt Rd. Apt. 803, White Salmon, WA 98672.

There are additional ways to support the monks through offering your services or monetary donations. Please visit the hermitage Support page for more information.