Payment of Meals Policy

Title: Payment of Meals Policy
Policy Owner: Accounts Payable, Purchasing, Environmental Health and Safety
Applies to: Faculty, Staff
Campus Applicability:  Storrs and Regional Campuses
Effective Date:  July 15, 2015
For More Information, Contact Accounts Payable
Contact Information: (860) 486-4137
Official Website: www.accountspayable.uconn.edu

From time to time, it is necessary to the interests of the University to host or provide meals to guests such as job candidates, visiting scholars or donors. Likewise, a meal may be an essential or important part of an event, such   as a conference or workshop, which is conducted by the University. In cases where the University provides a meal (or reimburses the expense of the meal, as the case may be) to individual(s) who are not travelling on behalf of the University (herein defined broadly as “business meals”), the University will pay or reimburse the business meal under the requirements and procedures under this section.

As a public agency, the University has an obligation to students, taxpayers and benefactors to use all of its funds as prudently as possible. Therefore, all employees and individuals with authority to request, control or approve University funds, including but not limited to travelers, shall use their best judgment in applying those funds towards business meals only when justified with a business purpose and a clearly identifiable benefit to the University. The act of requesting, using or approving a business meal constitutes an individual’s official determination that, to the best of such individual’s knowledge, the expense was actually incurred, is justified by a business purpose, and serves the best interests of the University.

The University’s policy of paying or reimbursing for business meals is subject to the following general rules:

  1. University employees are generally responsible for paying for their own meals when they are not traveling.
  2. University funds may not be used for meals at social functions, such as parties or summer outings, attended entirely or primarily by University employees and/or their personal guests.
  3. University funds may not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.
  4. In most cases, business meals may not be charged to sponsored awards (the responsible OVPR, SPS Grant Manager may provide more information or grant exceptions where appropriate).

Meals between faculty/staff and students, while allowable when there is a business justification, should be infrequent.  In addition, units may purchase group business meals when a group meal is essential to the effectiveness and efficiency of the meeting. This is especially the case when multiple units are called together for a substantial meeting, or when stopping the meeting to allow employees to leave for a normal meal would be disruptive and inconvenient for the University.

For the avoidance of doubt, this policy shall extend fully to business meals that are paid for by interdepartmental transactions, such as meals purchased through Dining Services (including Chuck and Augie’s). Business Meals require the documented approval of the Department Head, Director or Dean. The approval request should include the purpose of the meeting or event; a formal written agenda including session times; a list of attendees with their associated departments/entities; and the expected cost of the meal per person.  Set-up and delivery costs associated with the group meal shall not be included in the meal limit calculation.

For all business meals, including group meals, organizers should limit attendance to essential guests only. Without proper justification on the Business Meal Detail Form, the University will not reimburse expenses for spouses or partners or non-essential guests. Under no circumstances may the cost of the meal for each guest (including taxes and tip) exceed three times the appropriate GSA Per Diem meal amount for the location.

For the purposes of this policy, business meals shall not include refreshments, such as snacks or nonalcoholic beverages, which are made available to guests outside of the context of a meal. Such refreshments may be provided in appropriate business contexts, provided that the cost of providing refreshments, when combined with any meals served, is less than the applicable GSA meal rate (inclusive of incidental costs, such as set up, delivery, and service charges). For example, refreshments provided before a morning meeting at the Storrs campus cannot exceed the allowed breakfast per diem expense (currently $7 for FY15). Refreshment transactions must also be justified by a business purpose and require the attendee list, total costs, and per person breakdown before the costs may be paid or reimbursed.

Note that the provisions in this section shall not be construed as to supersede the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement.

Procedure

Departments with ability to control or request Foundation funds are encouraged to consider use of these funds as the primary reimbursement method to cover the expense of business meals.

If Foundation funds are not used, employees may request reimbursement for business meals by attaching the Business Meal Detail Form available at http://travel.uconn.edu/ with the original itemized receipt and proof of payment to the Reimbursement Request. Note that the form requires written approval for the meal from the Department Head, Director, or Dean. The Business Meal Detail Form must also include the date, location, business purpose, names of attendees and their affiliation to the University and the actual cost of the meal per person.

For authorized business meals at the Nathan Hale Inn and Conference Center, a Meal Charge Ticket allows departments to charge the meal to a KFS account.

Finally, for reference, the GSA Per Diem tables are available at: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877.

Units that want to contract for catering services for a group meal that will cost more than $2,000 should refer to UConn’s Procurement Services for guidance.

Refer to the Travel and Entertainment Policies – section 5e and complete the Business Meal Form.

Contracting and Paying for Catering Services For Events Costing Less than $2,000

University departments are authorized to contract for catering services without first obtaining a purchase order number, provided the total expenditure is less than $2,000. Departments making catering arrangements under this authority are encouraged to obtain a written and signed quotation from the selected vendor. If there is any question about whether the catering services might exceed $2,000, the department should obtain a purchase order number or PCard (PCard cannot be used for dine in options at off campus facilities) before the services are provided.

There are three alternatives for payments for the catering service:

  1. The vendor will invoice the University for the service. When the invoice is received by the department, a Disbursement Voucher should be prepared made payable to the vendor. The  Disbursement Voucher must contain:
    1. The purpose of the meeting
    2. Date of service
    3. Names of persons who attended and their relationship to the University
    4. The itemized invoice from the vendor attached to the Disbursement Voucher
  2. The preferred method of providing the required information is the Business Meal Detail Form. The host will pay the bill and obtain a receipt. A Disbursement Voucher made payable to the host should be prepared. The  Disbursement Voucher must contain:
    1. The purpose of the meeting
    2. Date of service
    3. Names of persons who attended and their relationship to the University
    4. The itemized invoice from the vendor attached to the Disbursement Voucher

The preferred method of providing the required information is the Business Meal Detail Form.

  1. The University PCard can be used for “take-out services” for student activities & official business meetings only for events less then $4,999.99

When reallocating in KFS attach the following:

    1. The purpose of the meeting/formal agenda
    2. Business Meal Pre-Approval Form signed by Department head
    3. Names of persons who attended and their relationship to the University
    4. The itemized receipt from the vendor

The PCard cannot be used to pay invoices for past events.

For Events Costing at Least $2,000 but Under $10,000

Catering services that cost at least $2,000 but fall below the bid threshold of $10,000 must be submitted to Procurement Services on a purchase requisition in advance of the required services. The requisition is required to contain the following before a purchase order will be issued;

    1. The purpose of the meeting/formal agenda
    2. Business Meal Pre-Approval Form signed by Department head
    3. Names of persons who attended and their relationship to the University
    4. A quotation from the vendor

The vendor will send the invoice with the Purchase Order # on the invoice to the Accounts Payable Office for payment.

The University PCard can be used for “take-out services” for student activities & official business meetings only for events less than $4,999.99.

For Events Costing $10,000 to $49,999.99

State procurement statutes require the University to competitively bid catering services when the cost is $10,000 or more.

If the department elects to obtain bids on their own, three (3) important points must be followed:

  1. The upfront research/legwork done by the department should eliminate vendors with an undesirable location. A minimum of three (3) written quotes should be solicited from three (3) vendors or three (3) facilities where you would be willing to hold your event.
  2. Your department’s requirements must be issued in writing to the vendors or facilities you are soliciting. It is essential that all vendors are provided the same information/requirements to bid and it is verifiable. Include a response date so you can negate any offers received after that date.
  3. Submit a purchase requisition along with all your supporting documentation as in the under $10,000 procedure. If no other information is needed by Procurement, a purchase order will be issued to the successful vendor.

Selecting the option most appropriate to accomplishing your objective will expedite the ordering process and reduce the amount of time spent filling out and filing forms.

If requested by department Procurement Services provides competitive bidding for catering as a service to those departments who wish to use it. To take advantage of this service, contact Procurement Services. The bids will be reviewed with the department prior to the award. A purchase order will be issued to the successful bidder.

For Events Costing over $50,000

For catering services and conferences that exceed a cumulative annual cost of $50,000 requires a public competitive bid process. The bid process must be handled in their entirety by the Procurement Services. Contact Procurement Services to discuss the competitive bid process. A purchase order will be issued to the successful bidder

The vendor will send the invoice with the Purchase Order # to the Accounts Payable Office for payment.

Public Health Code Requirements for Temporary Food Service Events & Catering

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) offers information and support to ensure that all food service establishments, including Temporary Food Service Events (TFSE), are held to the same consistent standard, and are operated in a safe and sanitary condition, helping to reduce the risk of a foodborne illness outbreak and ensure a safe food supply on campus.

All food served to the public (regardless if there is a fee or not) must be approved by EH&S.  Each organization serving food to the public must complete and submit a TFSE application to our office at least ten (10) business days prior to the event.  Good communication is essential for a smooth application process, enabling us to issue a timely approval and help ensure a safe and successful event.  TFSE applications submitted with less than ten (10) business days notice may not be approved and are subject to a late fee.  Upon approval, a permit will be issued which must be placed in an area visible to the public.

Please note that fully utilizing University Dining Services Catering exempts all organizations from having to submit a TFSE application; however, if they are only used for part of the event (for example, just purchasing food from University Catering), EH&S must receive a TFSE application.  All off-campus caterers must have a valid food license or permit from their local health department and a copy must accompany the TFSE application, if it is not already on file in our office.

The TFSE application can be submitted on-line at: http://www.ehs.uconn.edu/food/request.php.

Safe food handling educational information and application fee information is available at: http://www.ehs.uconn.edu/Biological/bioforms.htm or from the EH&S office located at 3102 Horsebarn Hill Road, Unit 4097, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4097.  EH&S office hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

The TFSE policy is intended to apply to “public” events, including:

  • Events (regardless of whether a fee is charged or not) that are widely advertised and where most anyone can attend, e.g., community picnics, large fundraisers
  • Open houses
  • Any public function that is, essentially, an open event, whereby the public has an expectation that the food is safe and complies with established public health codes.

The TFSE policy does not apply to “private” events, including:

  • Internal departmental functions, e.g., pot luck lunches/dinners, holiday gatherings, birthday parties, staff meetings
  • Student organization meetings, e.g., pizzas and refreshments ordered during discussions of club business by club members only
  • Typically small, private, gatherings by invitation only, e.g., a dean’s dinner party for potential donors

Please Note: Prior to the event, each applicant must attend a 30-minute Food Safety training session annually at the Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Office or at the Student Union Reservations Office, Room 315 (860) 486-3422. For more information on food safety or the TFSE application process, please contact the EH&S office at (860) 486-3613.

Insurance Requirements for Catering Contracts

All caterers serving at official University events are required to present evidence that they have both liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. A Certificate of Insurance is required from the [Vendor/Contractor]. Such certificate shall be issued by an insurance company with a general policyholder’s rating of not less than A- and a financial rating of not less than Class VIII as rated in the most current available A.M. Best Insurance Reports, and licensed to do business in the State of Connecticut.  The Certificate of Insurance shall name the University of Connecticut, State of Connecticut, its boards, commissions, agents and employees as an Additional Insured, and must be submitted to the Department owning the event/service prior to the catered event. Minimum acceptable coverage will include the following:

General Liability, including Contractual Liability, Products Liability, Broad Form Property Damage: $1,000,000 per occurrence/$2,000,000 aggregate

Automobile Liability: Any Auto $1,000,000 combined single limit

Excess Liability: Umbrella $1,000,000

Since the Procurement Services may not write purchase orders for catering services valued at less than $2,000, it will be the ordering department’s responsibility to ensure that the necessary documents are submitted and meet the above criteria. Any questions regarding insurance requirements for catering services should be directed to the Procurement Services at extension 6-4992.

Some small, specialty caterers may be unable to meet the one million dollar requirement. In such cases a waiver may be granted on a case-by-case basis, provided the total contract cost is less than $2,000. In such instances, the department wishing to utilize the catering services should submit to Procurement Services a letter explaining the unique capabilities of the selected firm, and a copy of the insurance certificate describing the amount of coverage available. Requests to hire uninsured caterers will not be approved. Any actions of uninsured caterers, which result in personal injury and/or property damage, i.e., food poisoning, scalding, spillage, or vehicular mishaps could potentially create a liability for the University.  It is the intent of this insurance requirement to mitigate the University’s liability exposure.

Exemption of Connecticut Sales Tax

Departments may be asked by the vendor to provide a Cert 112 or Cert 123 prior to the event in order to provide an exempt status for Connecticut Sales Tax. A Cert 112 provides exemption for a single event whereas a Cert 123 provides a blanket exemption for a year. If this is not filed prior to the event, the department is obligated to pay the Connecticut sales tax. Contact Procurement Services to inquire about particular vendors.