Whether we’re religious or not, everyone eats food; food is probably the item we human beings share with one another the most.
Eating brings a family together; it is an activity we do socially with friends. And when tragedy strikes after a natural disaster or in the wake of warfare, food is one of the first items relief agencies send in.
When we are unsure how the homeless will use monetary offerings, we can give them food. Food is the universal gift that expresses care in all cultures.
Dedicating the merit of offering food reminds me that having sufficient nutritious food is a human right that is recognized in the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) and affirmed in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Article 11).
Specifically, food that is sufficient in amount and quality should be available to every human being. This food should be easily accessible now and its availability sustainable in the future. No one should face discrimination of any sort or be prevented from having food.
It thus makes sense to dedicate the merit we’ve created by offering food to the Three Jewels so that all sentient beings will benefit.
We eat and drink many times each day, so offering our food and drink becomes an easy way to touch base with our spiritual values of giving and receiving kindness. It is also an opportunity to generate an understanding of dependent arising and emptiness and to create merit.