Food and Beverages

Guidelines for Charging to Externally Sponsored Projects

The cost of food/beverages will normally not be allowed as a direct charge on sponsored projects.  To determine whether these costs are allowable with sponsored projects (funds 500/510) and to identify the appropriate Institutional Account to assign, consider the following:

  • Institutional account 6115 – Non Clinical Laboratory Supply is used to identify food/beverages purchased to be used in laboratories as a “supply”. 
  • Institutional account 6125 – Food for Instruction and Rsrch is used to identify food/beverages purchased for research studies either involving research subjects/patients under the study.  Food/beverages purchased for research subjects are allowed assuming all human subject compliance requirements are in place.
  • Institutional account 6135 – Foodstuffs Not For Resale is used to identify food items purchased for meals that are prepared for consumption at a University sponsored activity (for example, Residence Services, Campus Cafeterias, and the University Center for Conferences).  These costs are not allowed with fund 500/510.
  • Institutional account 6137 – Food and Beverages is used to identify food and refreshments provided during formal business meetings or other campus events.  This includes costs processed through University travel vouchers that are identified as “business meals while in travel status” that include non-University individuals.  With the implementation of the Uniform Guidance on 12/26/2014:
    • Conferences were defined as a “meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, workshop or event whose primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information beyond the non-Federal entity and is necessary and reasonable for successful performance under the Federal award”.  Additionally, many Federal agencies further restrict costs associated with food and beverages provided during conferences/meetings.  Based on these guidelines:
      • Food/beverages provided during routine meetings with other University faculty/staff are not allowed.
      • Costs of food/beverages during a conference/seminar/meeting with a formal agenda, attendee roster and include participants who are not University faculty/staff/students are allowable provided that the Federal agency does not specifically restrict the cost. Examples of Agency Policies on Meeting/Conference Expenses:
Agency/Guidance Document (Date) Relevant Term
(This list is not comprehensive.)
Dept. of Energy/Special Terms and Conditions for Use in Most Grants and Cooperative Agreements

The recipient shall not expend any funds on a conference not directly and programmatically related to the purpose for which the grant or cooperative agreement was awarded that would defray the cost to the United States Government of a conference held by any Executive branch department, agency, board, commission, or office for which the cost to the United States Government would otherwise exceed $20,000, thereby circumventing the required notification by the head of any such Executive Branch department, agency, board, commission, or office to the Inspector General (or senior ethics official for any entity without an Inspector General), of the date, location, and number of employees attending such conference.

Environmental Protection Agency/EPA General Terms and Conditions  

20. Light Refreshments and/or Meals
Unless the event(s) and all of its components are described in the approved workplan, the recipient agrees to obtain prior approval from EPA for the use of grant funds for light refreshments and/or meals served at meetings, conferences, training workshops and outreach activities (events). The recipient must send requests for approval to

the EPA Project Officer and include:

(1) An estimated budget and description for the light refreshments, meals, and/or beverages to be served at the event(s);

(2) A description of the purpose, agenda, location, length and timing for the event; and

(3) An estimated number of participants in the event and a description of their roles.

Recipients may address questions about whether costs for light refreshments, and meals for events may be allowable to the recipient’s EPA Project Officer; however, the Agency Award Official or Grant Management Officer will make final determinations on allowability.
National Institutes of Health/NIH Grants Policy

Selected Items of Cost, Meals:
When certain meals are an integral and necessary part of a meeting or conference (i.e., a working meal where business is transacted), grant funds may be used for such meals only when consistent with terms of award.

The cost of meals served at a meeting or conference, for which the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information, is no longer allowable on NIH grants where the primary purpose of the grant is to support a conference or meeting (see also Support of Scientific Meetings (Conference Grants) Section 14.10.1). However, when such a meeting/conference is an ancillary effort under a grant where the primary purpose is other than to support such a meeting/conference, then the cost of meals would be allowable. When allowable as a direct charge, the cost of any meal must meet a test of reasonableness. However, recurring business meetings, such as staff meetings, should not be broadly considered as meetings for the primary purpose of disseminating technical information in order to justify charging meals or refreshment to costs to grants.

NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

II.C.2.g.xii(b) Meals and Coffee Breaks
No NSF funds may be spent on meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of an organization or any of its components, including, but not limited to, laboratories, departments and centers.

Office of Naval Research /Office of Naval Research Terms and Conditions  

25. Food and Beverage
ONR funds shall not be used to pay for food or beverages.

Last updated: 12/15/2022