LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Food will no longer be served at central Pennsylvania funeral homes thanks to a federal appeals court ruling that reinstated a decades-old ban on that practice.
The prohibition is included in a list of operating laws for funeral directors reinstated recently by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Lancaster Newspapers reported (http://bit.ly/1jO5ozu ).
A federal judge threw out the decades-old operating laws in 2012, deeming them unconstitutional.
Reactions from funeral home operators to the latest ruling were mixed.
Director Chad Snyder of The Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home, which began serving food after the ruling by Judge John E. Jones III, said he was disappointed.
Snyder said food had been requested and provided at 40 to 50 services since the 2012 ruling, and he believes it provides some comfort to bereaved families.
"I personally think food and funerals go hand in hand," he said. "Just like weddings and food go hand in hand."
The food ban was instituted in 1952 out of safety concerns, but Snyder said there's no risk if proper precautions are taken.
"Every hospital has a cafeteria, don't they?" he said.
Another funeral home operator, Jeremy DeBord, general manager of Lancaster-based Kearney A. Snyder Funeral Home, said he never seriously considered serving food after the 2012 decision, in part because he thought it might be overturned.
"We take the stance that we'll let restaurants do what they do best," DeBord said Monday. "There are better places to have food than a funeral home."
Melanie Scheid, operator of the Gundel Chapel in Conestoga, also said her operations would be unaffected.
"The emphasis should be more on keeping consumers safe than worrying about serving food," she said.
Jones' 2012 decision followed a lawsuit by a York County funeral director and more than 30 other plaintiffs.
Among other statutes reinstated by the appeals court were allowing random inspections, barring directors supervising more than one location and a ban on paying commissions to employees.
The lower court had also thrown out a requirement that funeral homes be named after the person in charge or the person who established the parlor, and the appeals court held up that decision.
Information from: Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era , http://lancasteronline.com