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Policy: Payment or Reimbursement of Social Event Meals 

Date: 05/10/04 Policy ID: FIN-009 Status: Final

Policy Type: University
Contact Office: Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Management and Budget
Applies To: Academic Division and the College at Wise.
Table of Contents: 

Policy Statement

  1. “Social Event Meal” Expenses – General Information
  2. Payment Methods – Direct Payment vs. Reimbursement
  3. Payment: Limits and Restrictions
  4. Purchases of Alcohol


Reason for Policy: 

To define “social event meals” and the circumstances in which the University will pay for or reimburse individuals for social event meal expenses, and to limit the funds that may be used to local funds.

This policy does NOT cover “Travel Meals” (overnight or daytrip), which are addressed in policy FIN-030, Payment or Reimbursement of Travel Expenses, or “Business Meals,” which are addressed in policy FIN-004, Payment or Reimbursement of Business Meals.

Policy Summary: 
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Catered Meal: A meal supplied by either an internal or external vendor and requires both planning and forethought on the part of the purchaser, including a pre-established menu.

Social Event Meal: A meal served at an event that may be primarily social in nature and not necessarily essential to the mission of the University. However, the event must still support the mission of the University in some way, such as team building events or holiday celebrations for employees. The event may not be to honor or recognize particular individuals (e.g., wedding showers or baby showers are not allowable social event meals).

Policy Statement: 

The University will pay for or reimburse individuals for “social event meals” when local funds are available. All payments must be made using the established procedures published for the payment method by Procurement Services.

  1. "Social Event Meal" Expenses – General Information:
    The University will pay for or reimburse individuals for those meals that are deemed to fall under the definition of “social event meals”, as stated above, when local funds are available. All such payments and reimbursements must be reviewed and approved by Procurement Services prior to disbursement.

    In order to be approved, all requests for payment or reimbursement for social event meals must be submitted in accordance with published Procurement Services procedures. These procedures will also describe requirements for approval and documentation, which will include receipts and written justification for categorizing the expense as a social event meal.

    social event meals require the approval of your supervisor's supervisor on an appropriate approval document PRIOR to incurring expenses for the meal. Approval of the dean or vice president is required if the combined meal cost for all participants exceeds $400.

    Individual meal expense reimbursements above the de minimus amount of $100 is reportable as taxable income for the participant.

  2. Payment Methods – Direct Payment vs. Reimbursement:
    Allowable payment methods for social event meals depend on the circumstances of the particular meal:
    • Reimbursement -- An individual employee pays the expenses for the meal and the University reimburses the individual for allowable expenses. Reimbursement is the required method for any social event meal expenses other than the exceptions noted below, which may be made as Direct Payments to the vendor by the University.

    • Direct Payment Methods -- The University pays a vendor directly for a purchase made using either the Payment Voucher, the Purchasing Card, a Purchase Order, internal funds transfer, or rarely, Petty Cash. Direct payment can be made ONLY under the following circumstances:

      • For catered social event meals supplied by either external or internal vendors, a number of purchase/payment methods are allowed. All are published on the Good and Services Procurement Guide along with their dollar limits.

      • The University Purchasing Card may be used for certain types of social events meal expenses, only as specified on the the Good and Services Procurement Guide. All Purchasing Card spending limits and restrictions apply.

      • Petty cash advances may be used for social event meals only when reimbursement is not practical.

    Regardless of payment method, all local funds expenditure limits and restrictions apply, and all purchases and payments must be made using the established procedures published for the payment method by Procurement Services or Medical Center Accounts Payable.

  3. Payment – Limits and Restrictions:
    The University will pay for meals served at a social event in recognition of individual(s) only when the person(s) recognized are staff, faculty or student(s) NOT covered under the Employee Recognition for Classified Staff policy.

    Employee attendance at a social event meal must be at the employee’s discretion rather than a requirement imposed by the University.

    The University will not pay for social event meals in recognition or honor of particular individuals (e.g., wedding or baby showers).

    Social event meal expenses may be paid from local funds only, up to local funds spending limits. Current local funds spending limits for meals are published at Local Funds Limits -- All Locations.

    With written approval of dean or vice president, local funds may also be used to pay for:
    • alcohol
    • Meal expenses for spouses of meal participants
  4. Purchases of Alcohol:
    All alcohol must be purchased with local funds only. Information on circumstances under which alcohol may be served is published in policy STU-001, Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs.
    • Alcohol purchased separately from meals as a social event meal expense requires the written approval of a dean or vice president.

    • Alcohol consumed with meals, where the cost of alcohol does not exceed the cost of the meal, requires no additional approvals. However, if the cost of the alcohol exceeds the cost of the meal, written approval of a dean or vice president is required.
Procedures: Payment Voucher
Social Event Meal Payment or Reimbursement Procedures
Related Information: Good and Services Procurement Guide
Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs
Policy Background: 
Major Category: Finance and Business Operations
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 05/10/14
Approved By, Date: Policy Review Committee, 05/10/04
Revision History: Updated 2/16/2011. Previous versions in effect from 5/10/2004 to 2/15/2011, 7/1/2001 to 5/9/2004.
Supersedes (previous policy):