Food & Beverage Purchases

Food & Beverage Procedures 

There are limited circumstances in which it is considered appropriate to provide food and beverages to personnel not in travel status, such as an annual meeting or University-wide event.   Food/Beverage may not be provided at regularly scheduled or routine meetings (i.e., monthly staff meetings, quarterly unit meetings) or to boost morale or promote goodwill among employees. Participant-funded events, where the food/beverage costs are paid solely from participant fees (i.e., registration fee) are not subject to the policy. 

All food and beverage purchases are limited to the per meal dollar maximum for the location (which includes applicable tax and tips – up to 20% – or for hotels, the negotiated service fee). Maximum amounts per person are limited to one-and-a-half times the per diem meal allowances for travel. The Basic per diem rates are available on the GSA Per Diem webpage. 

For Travel Meals information refer to University Travel Policy.  

Types of Non-Travel Food and Beverage Expenditures 

Basic types of food purchases are catering and business meals, and supplies/food and drink. The preferred payment method for food and beverage expenditures is the Purchasing Card (P-Card). Non-travel meals must adhere to the procedures noted below. 


Catering is the activity of providing food and drink for a group of people, with services such as setup, staffing, and cleanup included. Food that is delivered only, such as pizza, sandwich boxes, etc., and food that is picked up at a restaurant and brought to campus for consumption is not considered catering (see Business meal below). 

All catering requests must be made through Marymount University (MU) Catering Services.  If MU Catering cannot accommodate the request, outside catering may be hired.  Internal Catering Services will be charged to the department’s cost center.  External Catering must be paid with a P-Card and is a tax-exempt purchase. The use of personal funds for catering is not a reimbursable expense.   

Units are prohibited from cooking/preparing raw food for events (i.e., cookouts, grilling foods). 

External Catering over $5,000 must be submitted through Procurement with a Purchase Order and may not be paid with a P-Card. A comment explaining the business purpose and the tentative list of attendees and their affiliation/non-affiliation with Marymount University, or a statement of impracticality must be attached to the purchase requisition.  

Business Meals 

Business meals (include Business Functions, Internal Training, Other Internal events, Student Academic events, Student Club events, Student Athletic events, and RA/RD required activities). Business meals are a meal provided at a commercial dining establishment open to the public, or at a university location if no extra service other than delivery or pickup is provided. A business meal may occur in travel or non-travel status. 


  • You and a group of colleagues take a job applicant out to lunch as part of their interview itinerary.
  • You take a non-MU 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.
  • Meals with a guest speaker and other attendees.
  • Department training or retreat that lasts longer than 4 hours (Food is generally brought into the workplace and should be economical).
  • Student co-curricular function hosted by the university and focused on students. Cannot be an employee function where students are present.


When business meals are purchased, the senior most MU employee at the meal must pay for the entire meal.  This avoids having a subordinate pay for a supervisor’s meal expenses.  

Every effort should be made to purchase using a P-Card. Business Meal reimbursements are processed through MU Accounts Payable in Workday. The business purpose must be entered to explain the purchase. The final itemized receipt/proof of purchase and list of attendees and their affiliations/non-affiliation with MU should also be included in the reimbursement request. Individuals should always seek approval from their department before incurring out-of-pocket expenses. . There is no guarantee that tax will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses.  

Alcohol Purchases

All University Events or University Business Meals where alcohol is available must be conducted in accordance with MU Policy Alcohol Service at University Events and Business Meals.

Alcohol service at any on campus University Events must be provided by a MU Catering.