Purchase of Business Meals and Events Policy

Policy Number


The reimbursement or payment for food and non-alcoholic beverages may occur if the primary purpose is a business discussion. Business meals generally include at least one non-college employee. However, occasional gatherings of college employees may be reimbursed as business meals. Expenses may be incurred only for those individuals whose presence is necessary to the business discussion. Food may be also purchased for College-sponsored events on and off campus.


The purchase of meals/food may be classified as follows:

  1. Individual Meals. This policy does not apply to individual meals; these will be reimbursed under the per diem rate in accordance with the VSCC General Travel Policy IV:01:01 and TBR Travel Policy 4:03:03:00.
  2. Employee Group Meals. This includes food and non-alcoholic beverages for a group of College personnel not on travel status, such as College personnel meetings, retreats, appreciation and/or retirement events, etc. The incidental presence of one or more guests will not change the classification if the occasion is primarily intended for the group of employees.
  3. Guest Meals. This applies when one or more College employees purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages for a College guest or guests. These provisions for guest meals apply when a College official is being reimbursed for meals purchased for a guest and do not apply when a guest will be reimbursed under regular travel procedures for meals which he/she purchases him/herself. “Guest Meals” include both the guest and College personnel in the same party.
  4. Student Group Meals. This applies when food and non-alcoholic beverages are purchased for student meals such as student organizations. The advisor(s) will be included as part of the “Student Group”.
  5. Non-Employee Group Meals. This applies when food and non-alcoholic beverages are purchased for a non-employee group, such as conference or institute participants. The incidental presence of one or more College personnel will not change this classification if the occasion is primarily for the non-employee group.
  6. Food for Events. This applies when food is purchased for events on or off campus. Most events will be student-centered, but at times there may be events for employees where food is provided.

Reimbursements and Approvals

All reimbursements and payment requests must comply with IRS rules of substantiation of business expenses requiring documentation of the time, date, specific topic of discussion, and a list of attendees.

A “Meal/Entertainment Authorization Form” must be completed, including all approval signatures, before any funds are expended. For “meals” an estimate of the total cost should be entered on the form for approval as we understand one does not know the exact cost until after the meal.

Every effort should be made to pay for the “meals” listed above with the College’s ProCard. Please make sure to take the College’s tax-exempt form with you to not pay taxes on the meal. The meal receipt and the completed “Meal/Entertainment Authorization Form” should be kept in the department’s ProCard binder.

If the employee personally paid for the meal, a check request with the completed “Meal/Entertainment Authorization Form” attached should be submitted for reimbursement. All sections of both forms must be completed to satisfy the IRS requirement and to request payment.

When purchasing food for an event, a “Meal/Entertainment Authorization Form” must be completed, including all approval signatures, before any funds are expended. Once the appropriate Vice President has signed the form you are approved for the purchase. If the event will be catered, a quote from the vendor will be required. The quote and the “Meal/Entertainment Authorization Form” can be used as a backup for the creation of the requisition to purchase. If the ProCard is used to pay for the food, the invoice and Form should be kept in the Department’s ProCard binder.

No receipt is required for gratuities; however, the maximum reimbursement for a gratuity is twenty (20) percent.

Alcohol will not be reimbursed by the College.

The College has the right to deny reimbursement for meal expenses that lack documentation or a clear business purpose, such as a primarily social gathering.

The standard meal rates do not apply; however, the approving official is responsible for the reasonableness of amounts.


TBR Sources: TBR Board Meeting December 5, 2003; December 2, 2005; September 28, 2007.

VSCC Source: March, 1999, President; November 10, 2008, President's Cabinet; November 30, 2022, President’s Cabinet