the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
This practice is the opposite of the Sunnah.
The Sunnah is for the neighbors of the bereaved family to help them out by preparing food for them. This is a kindness so that the people who are bereaved and who are at the same time preoccupied with the funeral preparations and other matters can be freed from the added burden of preparing their own food.
When Ja`far b. Abi Tâlib died, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Prepare food for Ja`far’s family, they have something that is keeping them occupied.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (998) and Sunan Abî Dâwûd (3132)]
This means that preparing food for the family of the deceased is to be done by their neighbors to help them out. The bereaved family may need such help. These days, with the proliferation of convenient and inexpensive restaurants, the need for the neighbors to prepare food for the bereaved family may not always exist. Still, preparing food for the deceased’s family is a Sunnah practice whenever the need for it arises.
We see it as a bit cruel to insist that the bereaved family should be set to the totally unnecessary task of preparing food for the entire neighborhood!
If the family of the deceased prepares food for the neighbors in deference to local customs or under the pressure of social expectations, then they are doing nothing wrong, though we feel sorry for them for having to do so.
If the family of the deceased prepares food for their neighbors believing that it is Sunnah to do so or that it is an act of religious devotion, then they are engaging in an unlawful innovation in their religion.
However, in either case, the food that they prepare will be lawful to eat. The food should not be wasted.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today