Office of the President

University Policy on Food Expense

Executive Memorandum 99-028 July 12, 1999

From: Manuel A. Esteban, President

Subject: University Policy on Food Expense

Upon recommendation of the Vice President for Business and Finance and the approval of Cabinet, I am pleased to approve the following policy for immediate implementation.



It is the policy of California State University, Chico to procure and pay for pre-authorized, allowable, and reasonable food expenses directly related to the conduct of official on-campus university business. This policy does not cover food expenses of employees traveling on university business or when working in overtime status (refer to the campus travel allowance manual or bargaining unit contract for policy covering those types of expenses).



Payment of business-related food expenses will be allowed for those expenses directly related to the active conduct of on-campus university business. The event at which the food items are provided must serve a clear university business purpose, with no personal benefit derived by the employee hosting the event or other university employees. In addition, the expenditure of funds for food should be cost-effective and in accordance with the best use of public funds. In general, meal costs should be comparable to state per diem meal rates.

Following are types of events where food expenses are allowed under this policy:

  • Host to Official Guests
    • When the university is host to official guests such as visitors from other universities, members of the community, or prospective appointees, the cost of meals or light refreshments may be paid from state-controlled funds.
  • Meetings of a Learned Society or Organization
    • When the university is the host or sponsor of a meeting of a learned society or organization, the cost of meals or light refreshments may be paid from state-controlled funds.
  • Meetings of an Administrative Nature
    • When meetings of an administrative nature are held that are directly related to the business of the university, the cost of meals or light refreshments may be paid from state-controlled funds. Meals must be a necessary and integral part of the business meeting, not a matter of personal convenience (e.g. , meals for employees from the same work location may be covered by the university if a working lunch is included as part of a scheduled meeting). Qualified meetings should take place over an extended period of time and the agenda should include a working meal to satisfy the requirement that the meal is part of a business function.


Alcoholic beverages will not be paid from any state-controlled funds, including trust funds.

Following are examples of the types of events where food expenses are not allowed under this policy:

  • Lunches (or other meals) where two or more employees of the university choose to go to lunch together to continue their business when the meeting could have been scheduled during regular work hours on-campus
  • Birthday, wedding, anniversary celebrations
  • Farewell gatherings
  • Employee awards celebrations (e.g. , staff awards luncheon)
  • Occasions such as Secretary's Day
  • Occasions to reward/honor volunteers


Food expense requests must be approved on the Food Expense Approval Form (Exhibit A) prior to scheduling food services for the event. The department head, the dean/unit head, and the vice president over the department requesting the food expense must signify their approval by signing the form. In order to ensure that the approval of business-related food expenses is entirely independent, individuals with delegated approval authority shall not approve their own expenses.

When determining whether a food expense is appropriate, approving parties must evaluate:

  • The importance of the event in terms of the costs that will be incurred
  • The benefits to be derived from such an expense
  • The reasonableness of the expense
  • The availability of funds to support the expense
  • Alternatives that would be equally effective in accomplishing the desired event objectives

The completed request is to include the following:

  • Name of the requesting department
  • Location of event
  • Date(s) of event
  • Requestor's name
  • Estimated number of attendees
  • Type of food expense (e.g. , breakfast, lunch, dinner, refreshments, etc. )
  • Requestor's phone number and e-mail address
  • Per person fee collected (if applicable)
  • Account number to be charged
  • Estimated overall cost for food items and estimated cost per person
  • Vendor requested for the food service
  • Purpose of the event, benefit of the event to the university, who will be attending event (e.g. , Natural Science Deans from the CSU)
  • Approval signatures of department head, dean/unit head, vice president


Non-campus individuals or businesses providing food for campus events will be required to provide a copy of a current Butte County Department of Health license issued in their name. In addition, they will be required to comply with current campus insurance requirements as specified by the University Risk Management Department. Current insurance requirements are available at the following Internet site:


Prior to the event, the requesting department is to submit a requisition along with the approved Food Expense Approval Form to the Procurement Services Office who will issue an order to the food provider. Should a non-campus caterer be selected for provision of the food, a current Butte County Health Department license and proof of insurance coverage will be required.


  • Department Heads
    • The department head is responsible for reviewing and approving business-related food expense requests and for submitting the requisition and Food Expense Approval Form to the appropriate authority for approval. The department head, or designee, is also responsible for obtaining a copy of the food provider's current Butte County Health Department license and proof of insurance coverage from the provider, with the assistance of Procurement Services and the University Risk Management Department as necessary.
  • Deans/Unit Heads
    • The dean or unit head is responsible for reviewing and approving the food expense requests, making sure the costs and number of events are not excessive for the departments he/she oversees.
  • Vice Presidents
    • Review by this level will be at the discretion of each Vice President. If signatory authority for food expense requests is delegated to another administrative employee, the name of the individual to assume this authority is to be provided to the Director of Procurement Services in writing.
  • Procurement Services
    • Procurement Services is responsible for issuing an order to the food provider and assuring that appropriate licensing and proof of insurance coverage is secured from the food provider.
  • Accounting Services
    • The Accounts Payable Office is responsible for paying purchase order invoices after departmental confirmation that all goods and services were received.


Exhibit A -- Food Expense Approval Form (PDF) (click here for copy of Approval Form)