Prohibition on food at NJ funeral homes could end under measure

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Lawmakers in New Jersey could soon end a prohibition on food and beverages in funeral homes. (WPVI)

Lawmakers in New Jersey could soon end a prohibition on food and beverages in funeral homes.

Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, a Middlesex Democrat, is sponsoring a bill that would update a variety of funeral practices in the state. Under the measure introduced in February, the food prohibition would be taken off the books so refreshments could be served in funeral homes, The Record reported.

Pinkin said her proposal is for the convenience of friends, family and business associates traveling to funeral homes. Being able to eat something there would allow them to spend more time at a wake or service, she said.

New Jersey is among a handful that forbids refreshments at funeral homes under the belief that food and bodies don't go together.

Adam Guziejewski, deputy executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, said the group representing some 500 funeral homes supports the repeal. He said there is no public health risk, because "obviously it's not like food is going to be served in the body preparation room."

Lenore Guido, bereavement coordinator at Holy Name Hospice, said that coming together to break bread is a custom that's even more important in times of grief.

"Food is love, food is comfort," Guido said.

But Louis Stellato Jr., president of several northern New Jersey funeral homes, worries that accommodating food would distract funeral directors from celebrating life, and isn't convinced that having food there would provide comfort.

"I have real difficulty seeing the correlation between easing grief and a cup of Colombia roast," he said.
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