Michigan State University
Controller's Office

Administration Bldg
426 Auditorium Rd, Rm 305
East Lansing, MI 48824
517 355-5020

SECTION 45: Food and Beverage, Business Functions

Last reviewed: March 2023

Last updated: March 2023

I. General

The university expects fiscal responsibility regarding food and beverage expenditures.

Under unusual circumstances, exceptions to these policies and guidelines should be obtained in advance from the Provost or appropriate Vice President.

II. Business Functions

  1. Staff participation should be limited to those persons required to conduct the business. Expenses should be reasonable. Examples of business functions typically include hosting a donor or guest speaker, collaborating with external visitors, etc.
  2. University business functions should be held in campus facilities whenever possible. While business functions may take place off campus, use of campus facilities is strongly encouraged. Tip amount is to be reasonable at the individual’s discretion. Customary guideline is approximately 20% for good service.
  3. Meal tickets or plans purchased for use in a Residential and Hospitality Services unit will be charged via an Internal Billing edoc. The department must develop a log for maintaining the required documentation of the business expenditure. The log must indicate the ticket number(s) used or the date and number of meals used on a plan, and the business purpose for the meal(s).
  4. University funds may be used for meals to meet with university personnel if the meal is necessary to conduct university business.
    1. It is not general practice for persons within the same organizational unit to use university funds for meal(s).
    2. When a meal is a holiday function or has the appearance of a holiday function by the personnel in attendance, the cost may not be charged to the university. Holiday functions, including receptions, luncheons, etc., functions for Administrative Professionals’ Week, birthday parties and other social events, are not reimbursable from university funds.
    3. While in travel status, per diem policies are in effect. Consequently, a meal involving only employees traveling together may not be claimed as a business meal (actual cost) but will be reimbursed at the per diem rates subject to travel policies.
  5. Affiliation of guests and the purpose of the business function must be documented.
  6. For business functions with non-University faculty and staff, the cost of alcoholic beverages can be reimbursed under the university policy relating to alcoholic beverages (see item IX).

III. Recruiting Meals

  1. Campus facilities should be used whenever possible.
  2. Alcoholic beverages may be reimbursed under the university policy covering alcoholic beverages (see item IX).
  3. Reimbursement for meals should include only the principal people involved in the decision-making process. Generally, reimbursement will not be made for entire departments or large numbers of staff.
  4. Meals for spouses or partners/guests of the principal staff responsible for the recruiting will be reimbursed when the spouse/partner of the candidate is present.

IV. Retreats, Workshops, Committee and Faculty/Staff Meetings

  1. Retreats
    1. Retreats may be held for academic or university business purposes with prior approval of the Provost, Vice President, Dean, including Assistant and Associate positions, or at the College/MAU level – Budget Officer, Chief of Staff or CFO.
    2. Campus facilities should generally be used. The Kellogg Biological Station Conference Center, the Troy Management Center and other University-owned facilities are also acceptable. For campus-based retreats, guests shall be lodged at Kellogg Center when available if overnight lodging is required.
    3. Alcoholic beverages will not be reimbursed.
  2. Workshops, Committee and Faculty/Staff Meetings

    Campus facilities should be used whenever possible. Reimbursement shall generally be limited to low-cost food items (such as bagels, pastries, pizza, and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic beverages.

V. Retirements, Stepping Down From Administrative Positions and New Administrative Appointment Functions

  1. Retirements: An annual, university-wide service recognition function is held for all employees who qualify. In addition, a unit funded retirement function may be held for any employee who retires or terminates from the university providing that the employee has 15 years or more of service with the university.
  2. Stepping down from Administrative Positions: Functions may be held for directors, chairpersons or higher, who are stepping down from their administrative positions whether or not they are leaving the university.
  3. New Appointments to Administrative Positions: Functions may be held for directors, chairpersons, or higher, who are newly appointed to administrative positions.
  4. Guests may attend the functions noted in A-C above. The charge to university funds may not include alcoholic beverages. University funding of these functions will be allowed up to $25.00 per person plus gratuity/service fee. Functions expected to exceed the allowed limit of the per-person charge may be paid for by participants or other individuals from non-University funds.
  5. Documentation of adherence to the above rules must be noted on all retirement related charges (i.e. reason for function, name of honoree, number of years of service (applicable to retirements), and estimated number of people in attendance at the function). Units are encouraged to use gift account funding for these events whenever possible.

VI. College/Organization and Student Receptions

  1. A college or organization may hold a reception once per year for the purpose of meeting new faculty and staff members. In the interest of avoiding negative public perceptions, such events shall not be held between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
  2. Academic units may have receptions for faculty, staff and students/families when the predominant number of those in attendance are students. Academic units may have receptions to present or to acknowledge awards to faculty, staff, students, and alumni for outstanding accomplishments.
  3. Guests may attend these receptions. The charge to university funds shall not include alcoholic beverages. The use of campus facilities is strongly encouraged.

VII. Home Entertainment

Home entertainment is generally limited to MSU executive management (including deans) and other approved exceptions. All expenditure e-docs must be routed to the Provost, Vice President, Dean, including Assistant and Associate positions, or at the College/MAU level – Budget Officer, Chief of Staff or CFO. Such entertainment events are reimbursable pursuant to other sections of these policies and guidelines. Home entertainment may be provided through bulk purchases (see item VIII below) or catering. Also, see section IX.C., relating to the purchase and serving of alcoholic beverages.

VIII. Purchase of Food and Food Related Products

  1. Purchases of food and related items are limited to perishable food and disposable service ware directly related to the event.
  2. All purchases of food and beverages must be purchased from a vendor that provides itemized receipts.
  3. Purchases may be reimbursed for events pursuant to other sections of these policies and guidelines.

IX. Alcoholic Beverages

  1. Reimbursement/payment for alcoholic beverages is limited to the following instances only:
    1. Business functions involving non-employees of the University (see item II)
    2. Recruiting Meals (see item III).
    3. Conference accounts when consumed by conference attendees and when reimbursement is made by participants or sponsors of the conference
  2. Alcoholic beverages must be charged to a non-General Fund account and must use object code 6474. Consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus must comply with the Board of Trustees Ordinance 21.00 Alcoholic Beverages. Board of Trustees Ordinance 21.00 Alcoholic Beverages
  3. Alcoholic beverages must be purchased and served through licensed establishments, except for home entertainment, where direct purchases are permitted.