AR 6331: Employee Non-Travel Meals and Refreshments

Purpose and Applicability

This regulation guides departments on using college funds for employee non-travel business meals and refreshments related to official college activities. It does not cover meal reimbursements or direct meal provision during travel.

Employees authorized to obligate college funds are responsible for ensuring the expenditure is appropriate and lawful. Public employees may be personally liable for obligations that are inappropriate or an improper use of college funds. As with any expenditure, administrators with delegated expenditure decision authority are responsible for determining the appropriateness of purchases and ensuring that sufficient documentation exists to support the expenditure. The purchase must serve the business needs of the college, and authorization must be provided before obligation of funds.

The regulation aims to help decision-makers appropriately assess the use of college funds for employee non-travel meals and refreshments. Costs should be reasonable, and the business office will establish procedures to implement the regulation.


Meals are defined to include food and beverages provided at breakfast, lunch, or dinner to employees at college-sponsored functions. College funds must not be used to provide non-travel business meals for employees, except as noted below:

  1. Non-travel business meals may be provided at training sessions and conferences with at least 25 participants, even when the majority of participants are college employees. If there are fewer participants, departments should use professional judgment to consider whether participants can reasonably be expected to obtain and consume a meal on their own based on proximity to available food service and return within an hour. If participants cannot reasonably be expected to obtain and consume a meal on their own based on proximity to available food service and return within an hour, a meal may be provided with college funds. Business discussions are not required during these meals.
  2. A meal may be provided during a business meeting if it is a working business meal, attendance is required, and the meal is a work session, as documented in the meeting agenda. The meeting agenda should document the meal as a work session, and there should be a clear benefit to the college, such as maintaining continuity, promoting safety, or enabling the resumption of duties. Business discussions must occur during the meal.


Refreshments include drinks like coffee, tea, water, juice, soda, and similar beverages, along with sugar and creamer. Food items like fruit, pastries, chips, cookies, cake, and candy and other light snacks are also considered refreshments.

College funds must not be used to provide refreshments in the following cases:

  1. Regular staff meetings.
  2. Office social events like holidays or birthday celebrations.
  3. Voluntary social events, whether off-site or in the office, like retirement celebrations sponsored by the college.

College funds can't be used to buy bottled water or dispensers for offices unless the water is unsafe or temporarily unavailable. If needed temporarily, departments should provide documentation.

At the discretion of the area vice president, college funds may be used for refreshments in certain situations, including:

  1. Business meetings with industry representatives or the public. This may include events such as task force, advisory board, or commission meetings.
  2. Business meetings involving college employees that are scheduled to last 4 hours or longer and options for food on campus are not reasonably available.
  3. Training events held for instruction or dissemination of information to college employees and/or the general public.
  4. Staff retreats for work-related planning.
  5. College-sponsored employee recognition or volunteer recognition programs.
  6. Refreshments are included as a non-separable portion of the cost of renting a facility.
  7. Appreciation gestures to volunteers during or after work is performed.
  8. Drinking water, as required by Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the prevention of heat illness, however, reusable water dispensers are recommended.

Related Items

College funds may be used to buy essential serving products like paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils, as long as the purpose or event aligns with the guidelines for purchasing meals or refreshments in this policy.

However, college funds cannot be used for the following items:

  • Holiday decorations
  • Indoor house plants or flower arrangements
  • Retirement invitations, cards, gifts, and party favors
  • Punch bowl sets or other specialty serving containers

Note that these restrictions don't apply to serving containers used in commercial operations like dining services operated by the college or contracted businesses. Also, promotional items supporting the college's mission are not included in the restrictions.

Documentation and Payment

When meals or refreshments are provided for a given event, the following record-keeping should be used to account for the use of college funds:

  1. Written agenda for the meeting documenting that it was a working business meal. For training sessions and conferences, there is no requirement that business be conducted during the meal; however, a written agenda of the training session or conference is required.
  2. A written list of meeting attendees, including the number of college employees versus the number of non-college employees (in cases where personal identity is confidential or sensitive, a number of attendees is sufficient; however, the number of college employees versus the number of non-college employees should still be indicated).
  3. An itemized invoice or receipt, including unit costs, from the vendor who provided the meals and refreshments.

The written agenda and list of attendees (or number of participants) should be attached to the invoice for payment to vendors or purchasing card log for meals and refreshments.

If a questionable or inappropriate payment is made that does not comply with the guidelines outlined in this policy, management should take appropriate action, including obtaining reimbursement from the employee who authorized the purchase.

Adopted:        6/4/24

References: OAR 10.40.10