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Food/Meals

This depends on the sponsor and the terms and conditions applicable to the award. Some sponsors do not allow meal costs for employees of the institution if they are not in travel status. If they are attending the workshop and the sponsor has approved paying for their meals, the sponsor's written approval should be retained on file.

Yes. For more information, see "Meals over Per Diem" on the Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards section of the PAFC website.

No, coffee service and other drinks for breaks can be treated as incidental and not included in the individual per diem.

Auditors scrutinize meal purchases because they can include unallowable costs such as alcohol and/or per meal costs over the per diem allocation. Provision of an itemized receipt will provide proof of the cost allowability.

The food and beverage cost, including any applicable taxes, tips, and service charges, may not exceed the per diem allocation for the meal. Some non-federal sponsors may allow meal costs to exceed the standard per diem rate. Written sponsor approval is required in these instances. 

First, in planning the event and selecting the meal to be served, every effort should be made to have a margin between the planned meal cost and the allowable per diem. This will allow some cushion for no-shows before the per diem is exceeded. However, if the per diem is exceeded and the amount is reasonable, under the circumstances we would consider the additional cost allowable. There is still a possibility that an auditor would disagree and deem the excess unallowable.

Departments have an obligation to confirm that the beverages are truly complimentary and will not be reflected as a charge in another area. It is not acceptable for a vendor to embed the cost of beverages in other costs, such as meeting space. For more information, refer to PAFC's web page on Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards.

Yes, sign-in sheets will provide good supporting documentation for the number of people included in the cost of each meal. This will help to prove that the cost per person was within the allowed per diem for each meal.

Yes, the agenda would provide good supporting documentation to demonstrate that there was a business purpose for the meal and that it was not a social event.

No, these types of events are not considered necessary to meet Award objectives. See our web page on Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards for more information on purchases of food/meals.

The purchase of alcohol and any costs associated with the purchase or provision of alcohol are not allowable, except where written sponsor approval has been received. For more information, see our web page on Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards. Alcohol and related purchases must be made on a discretionary budget. Examples of costs that are incurred for the purpose of the provision of alcohol are alcohol permits, bar "set up" fees, or costs associated with bartending services.

The cost of the dinner and how it benefits the Award should be part of the original proposal and budget. As with all expenses, there is a requirement to show how the expense is necessary for the achievement of the award objectives. See PAFC's web page on Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards for more information.

GCA no longer applies the food flag to sponsored award budgets. Departments are responsible for knowing if food for a particular event was included in the proposal or that written sponsor approval has been obtained. The food approval form is not required for sponsored awards. For more information, see PAFC's web page on Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards.

In planning a meeting/conference, ensure that the vendor will itemize food purchases separately from other costs. If the vendor embeds food and beverage costs into the total cost of the meeting space, the department should work with the vendor to have the food and beverage costs identified separately. Refer to PAFC's web page Food Purchases on Sponsored Awards for more information.

If food is required for an Award, ideally it would be itemized in the proposal budget. If food for research was not included in the budget, then the purchase should include a documented justification for why the food was required. The justification would include how the purchase of food is necessary to achieve the award objectives.