Skip to Content

Home >> Travel & Expense >>

New Policy:  As of January 1, 2018 catering cannot be reimbursed, but instead must be paid for with a purchase order or Travel & Expense (T&E) card.  Many of us have been used to using the “catering” category to refer to food purchases that are not truly catering, but instead “business meals.”

FOOD PURCHASES AT UVA

There are three basic types of food purchases that occur at UVA:  catering, business meals, and supplies/food and drink.  These categories are explained more fully below.

All food purchases must have departmental approval, and have a substantive and bona fide business purpose deemed essential to the University’s mission. 

The University will not reimburse or pay for food purchases in recognition or in honor of particular individuals (e.g., birthday or wedding or baby showers). These meals are considered personal in nature.

Food/meal expenses that are permitted by University policy may not be allowable when paying with grants and other sponsored programs funding. Be sure to check with The Office of Sponsored Programs with any questions.

Documentation and Payment Methods

Itemized receipts are required for all meals, catering, food, drink, and supply purchases regardless of amount except for travel business meals or travel actual meals where no receipt is required if under $75.

Business meals and Catering:

  • Have a daily limit of $75 per person
    • Alcohol, taxes, and tips are to be included in the daily limit amount.
    •  Have Supervisor approval and justification when over $150.
  • Must have the required purpose or reason, number of participants, and affiliation documented.
    • Names of participants, if 10 or fewer.
    • If more than 10, their affiliations are sufficient

The preferred method to purchase on-grounds catering and business meals is with America To Go or one of the University’s Internal Service Providers. 

The preferred payment method to purchase business meals in restaurants, is the University’s Travel and Expense (T&E) Card. When paying with the T&E Card, follow policies and procedures for use of the card. All cardholder limits apply.

Catering cannot be reimbursed, but instead must be paid for with a purchase order or T&E card.  To pay an external caterer $5,000 or more, submit a Purchase Requisition in the Integrated System prior to arranging the purchase. Include all information required for the meal in the Paper Clip attachment area of the form. A PSDS buyer will help to arrange the purchase and will create a Purchase Order.

Types of Food Purchases

 

CATERING

Catering is the activity of providing food and drink for a group of people, typically with services such as setup, staffing, and cleanup included.

Examples: 

You host a retreat for your staff and provide a buffet lunch on site as a part of the event.

You hold a University sponsored event at a hotel which includes meals for attendees.

BUSINESS MEALS

Business meals are defined as food and drink as a meal provided at a commercial dining establishment open to the general public, or at a place of business as long as no service other than delivery is provided. A business meal may occur in travel or non-travel status.

Examples:

You and a group of colleagues take a job applicant out to lunch as part of their interview itinerary.

You order pizza or bagels for a group of students - dine-in, carry-out, or delivery.

You take a colleague to dinner while at a conference to discuss business related topics.

If expensing a business meal while traveling, the meal must be claimed instead of a per diem or actual travel meal.

SUPPLIES/FOOD AND DRINK

Supplies/Food and Drink is the purchase of food, drink and supplies that does not include any vendor-provided services. 

Examples:

You bring in a selection of sodas and snacks for a long afternoon committee meeting.

Purchasing bottled water, paper products, and coffee for public consumption.

Travel Meals

For questions regarding per diem meals, travel actual meals, or day trip meals please visit the Travel Meals section of the Planning and Paying for Travel page.

Taxes and Tips

Purchases of food, business meals, and catering paid directly by the University, including with a University Travel and Expense card, are exempted from Virginia Sales Tax. [HDJ(1] [HCR((2] However, actual travel meals and business meals paid with personal funds are not exempt. The Tax Exempt form may be found here:  https://www.procurement.virginia.edu/netbadge/forms/VirginiaSaleTax.pdf

Tips should be reasonable and follow best practices.

Other Considerations

Any expenses for alcohol MUST be paid with local funds. Information on circumstances under which alcohol may be served at the University is published in Policy STU-001: Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs.

A companion attending a business meal or catered event is an allowable expense if the companion is considered to have a bona fide business purpose, that is, if the companion has a significant role in the proceedings or makes an important contribution to the success of an event. Justification and supervisor approval is required to receive reimbursement or expense Travel and Expense Card for a companion’s expenses.