Food and a funeral?

No-food ban for Pennsylvania funeral homes is lifted.

Last month I read an interesting article in the York (Pa.) Dispatch, about funeral homes and foodservice. The article was prompted by the lifting of a fifty-year-old ban that prohibited food from being served in Pennsylvania funeral homes. Four other states have a similar ban. 

“We have had families request food hospitality—anything from cookies to finger sandwiches,” Ernie Heffner, funeral director at a West Manchester Township funeral home, said in the article. “It’s been uncomfortable to say no because the law hasn’t allowed it. We as providers of service should never be in a position to tell a customer no.”

Heffner added: “Families never get together for any event without food except during funerals in Pennsylvania.”

Now that the ban is lifted, some funeral directors say it wouldn’t be easy to implement a foodservice program. Space, expertise, and food safety and sanitation issues were all listed in the article as impediments to starting a foodservice program.

The article got me thinking: Is foodservice in funeral homes a natural business extension? I’m from the South, and food is a major part of every gathering, funerals included. But there’s something uncomfortable to me about eating in the same place as my loved one’s body. We normally eat at a church, restaurant or family member’s home following a funeral. To be fair, I’m not sure which of the other four states have the no-food ban, so I can’t say for certain if the funeral homes I’ve been in are even allowed to offer such a service. But even if they were, I don’t think it’s an appropriate place to sit down for a meal. I normally want to get outta dodge as soon as possible.

I suppose for some it might be a relief to be able to have one more thing checked off the to-do list when planning a funeral, something, thankfully, I’ve never had to do myself. But I’ve heard it’s a lot more work and hassle than you’d think, especially considering the mental state you’re in after a loved one’s death.

I’d love to hear what you guys think. Are foodservice programs at funeral homes a good idea? Sounds off in the comments section below, or shoot me an email at bschilling@cspnet.com

Update: I came across this story today, about a funeral home in South Carolina that is building a Starbucks coffee shop on its premises to provide foodservice to its customers and community.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., will soon switch over from magnetic strip-based student ID cards to chip-based ones, The Observer reports.

Along with being more secure, the new cards will allow students easier access to dining halls, enabling them to simply tap their cards on a reader to gain entrance. Students will also be able to add flex points and Domer Dollars—which can be used at eateries on and off campus—to their accounts via a mobile app.

The new cards are expected to be available by the time school begins next fall.

Read the full story...

FSD Resources