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Unless specifically budgeted or part of the science, food is an unallowable expense on grant and sponsored funding. RID and IIA are potential options for PIs. Contact CONHIresearch@asu.edu for specific guidance.

Expenditures made for meals, food, and related expenses may be reimbursed per Policy FIN 420-02:  Business Meals, Food, and Related Expenses, including:

  • Business meals
  • Receptions/banquets/luncheons
  • Food and refreshment at conferences/workshops/seminars
  • Food and refreshment supplies

(Employee food charges incurred during travel are reimbursed in conjunction with travel expenses.)

Appropriate Cost

Meals and nonalcoholic beverages should generally cost $40 or less per person. For meals and nonalcoholic beverages costing more than $40 per person, special approvals are required. If the meal cost is anticipated to be more than $40 per person, then the needed approval should be obtained prior to the meal. (Alcoholic beverages may not be paid for with university funds from any source under any circumstances.)


Gratuity for meals and nonalcoholic beverages should generally not be more than around 15 percent of the total meals, nonalcoholic beverages, and tax. Gratuity is not, under any conditions, to exceed 20 percent. Deduct all alcohol-related costs before calculating the gratuity for reimbursement or payment by ASU. Service charges that are greater than 20 percent that are part of a contract dealing with food and facilities provided as part of a program are allowable as long as they are within the range of typical service charges provided for those services.


The Business Meals and Related Expenses Form must be completed for every food expense, regardless of the dollar amount (with the exception of the purchase of beverages that are primarily provided for office visitors, such as coffee, soda, and water).  It is important that the public purpose being served is adequately documented on the form since public funds are being used. A list of attendees also must be documented on the form. If, however, a large group is present at the event and an attendee list is not available, it is acceptable to state the approximate number in attendance and, if known, mention the related ASU departments of affiliation if non-ASU related.

Reimbursement of food while in travel status is coded to the appropriate travel or expense reimbursement code, but not to the food object code, 7390 06.

Last revised by Debra Fisher on Friday, January 20, 2017 - 3:21pm