Food Purchases at UVA

There are three basic types of food purchases that occur at UVA: catering, business meals, and supplies/food and drink. These categories are explained more fully below.

The University will not reimburse or pay for food purchases in recognition or in honor of particular individuals (e.g., birthday or wedding or baby showers). These meals are considered personal in nature.

Food/meal expenses that are permitted by University policy may not be allowable when paying with grants and other sponsored programs funding. Be sure to check with The Office of Sponsored Programs with any questions.


Documentation and Payment Methods

    Itemized receipts are required for all meals, catering, food, drink, and supply purchases regardless of amount except for travel business meals or travel actual meals where no receipt is required if under $75.


    Business Meals and Catering:

    • Have a daily limit of $75 per person

      • Alcohol, taxes, and tips are to be included in the daily limit amount.

      • Have approval and justification from the Senior Department Finance Approver when over $150.

    • Must have the required purpose or reason, number of participants, and affiliation documented.

      • Names of participants, if 10 or fewer.

      • If more than 10, their affiliations are sufficient.

    Business meals in restaurants - The preferred payment method to purchase is the University’s Travel and Expense (T&E) Card. When paying with the T&E Card, follow policies and procedures for use of the card. All cardholder limits apply.

    On-grounds (or other local) catering and on-grounds business meals use America To Go's UVA Marketplace Catalog (if available) or one of the University’s Internal Service Providers.

    Catering cannot be reimbursed (see FIN-004), but instead must be paid for with a purchase order or T&E Card if the caterer is not an America To Go (ATG) supplier or if you are planning an out-of-area event.

    If a non-ATG caterer provides a department with an agreement, it must be submitted as either a non-PO Contract Request to be paid with a T&E Card or, after having the supplier register with PaymentWorks, submit a requisition for PO creation. A Central Office Buyer will review and negotiate the agreements.

    If a catering agreement is $10,000 or more and is not an ATG supplier, the department must submit (3) three quotes as a non-PO Request to be paid with a Travel and Expense Card or, after having the supplier register with PaymentWorks, submit a requisition for PO creation. The lowest quote will prevail. A Central Office Buyer will review and negotiate the agreements. 

    If a caterer is preferred for Alumni Hall, The Colonnade Club, or other university entities that hold events and an ATG supplier, the order must be submitted through the MarketPlace ATG portal.


    Types of Food Purchases



    Catering is the activity of providing food and drink for a group of people, typically with services such as setup, staffing, and cleanup included. Catering cannot be reimbursed (see FIN-004).


    You host a retreat for your staff and provide a buffet lunch on-site as a part of the event.

    You hold a University-sponsored event at a hotel that includes meals for attendees.



    Business meals are defined as food and drink as a meal provided at a commercial dining establishment open to the general public, or at a place of business as long as no service other than delivery is provided. A business meal may occur in travel or non-travel status.


    You and a group of colleagues take a job applicant out to lunch as part of their interview itinerary.

    You order pizza or bagels for a group of students - dine-in, carry-out, or delivery.

    You take a colleague to dinner while at a conference to discuss business-related topics.

    Your team individually orders meals through UVA’s Grubhub corporate account to be delivered to each person’s remote work location for a virtual meeting. For more information on this service, please email

    If expensing a business meal while traveling, the meal must be deducted from the per diem amount.



    Supplies/Food and Drink is the purchase of food, drink, and supplies that does not include any vendor-provided services. 


    You bring in a selection of sodas and snacks for a long afternoon committee meeting.

    Purchasing water, paper products, and coffee for public consumption.

    Travel Meals

    For questions regarding per diem meals, travel actual meals, or day trip meals please visit the FAQ pages on per diems and actual meals

    Taxes and Tips

    Purchases of food/beverages, and business meals paid directly by the University, including with a University T&E Card, are exempt from Virginia Sales Tax. However, actual travel meals and business meals paid with personal funds are not exempt. The Tax Exempt form may be found here.

    Tips should be reasonable and follow best practices.


    Other Considerations

    Any expenses for alcohol MUST be paid with local funds. Information on circumstances under which alcohol may be served at the University is published in Policy STU-001: Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs. If your event will be held on University property (regardless of who is in attendance) or if you are a University department hosting a function (not on University property) in which students are expected to attend you must submit the Approval Request for Use of Alcoholic Beverages form

    A companion attending a business meal or catered event is an allowable expense if the companion is considered to have a bona fide business purpose. That is, if the companion has a significant role in the proceedings or makes an important contribution to the success of an event. Justification and approval of the Senior Department Finance Approver is required to receive reimbursement or expense the T&E Card for a companion’s expenses.