Food Purchase Policy

The purpose of the food purchase policy is to define parameters under which Baker University departments may purchase food using institutional funds. Employee meals are a personal expense. When the University purchases the meal, the business purpose must be defined in order to avoid a taxable event.

Policy & Guidelines

Baker University has an obligation to ensure that all expenditures are essential and reasonable and that they support the mission of the University.

Guidelines for Appropriate Food Expenditures

The functions or events at which it is considered appropriate for food and beverages to be served to University personnel are limited to the following:

Business Function

Food may be provided at business meetings that involve substantive and bona fide business discussions with an outside party or parties in attendance. Outside parties include official guests of the University such as donors or potential donors, visitors from other universities, prospective faculty and staff during the interview process and guests invited to assist in the development of programs.

Student Academic Function

Food may be provided at student functions that contribute to the academic mission of the University. Current and prospective students are the primary beneficiaries at such events but University employees may be in attendance.

Internal Training Function

Food may be provided to participants of a formal training session that lasts all day when business is conducted through the time of the meal. Beverages only may be provided at a training session that lasts at least half a day.

Departmental retreats may be included in this category provided that they are conducted primarily as training functions, are held on University premises, do not require overnight lodging, and do not occur more frequently than annually.

Other Internal Function

This category includes University-recognized events, such as annual University Christmas receptions, award ceremonies or events supporting University-wide initiatives or campus-wide events. The events must be preapproved by the president or the executive vice president for administrative services/chief operating officer.

Guidelines for Appropriate Food Expenditures

This policy establishes the following requirements and limitations regarding appropriate food expenditures:

  • Food and beverages may be provided only at functions or events that meet the criteria listed above.
  • A listing of the names of each person in attendance at events at which food is provided must be submitted as documentation to support payment.
  • Food may not be provided at planning meetings, regularly scheduled or routine meetings. This restriction is based on current tax laws and is intended to avoid the necessity of including the value of such meals in an employee's taxable income.
  • Documentation to support food and beverage expenditures at functions that are training retreats must include a description of the type of training provided.
  • Reimbursement requests for business meals must be supported by an original itemized receipt. Credit card receipts are not acceptable.
  • All purchases are limited by available departmental budgets.
  • Meals during working hours, including "working meals" where one employee takes another employee to breakfast, lunch or dinner is NOT allowable.
  • If an employee is asked to travel more than 50 miles from his or her primary workplace for business purposes, his or her meals may be reimbursable. Any meals purchased less than 50 miles from the employee's workplace is NOT allowable.
  • Purchase of alcoholic beverages is never allowable.

This policy is an addition to the University Business Expense policy.

The final determination of whether an item is reasonable and necessary will be made by the University controller or the executive vice president for administrative services.