2.24 Meals and Entertainment Policy
I. Introduction and Policy Statement
Ithaca College funds utilized for meals and entertainment purposes are primarily derived from student tuition payments and gifts of the College. As a result it is important that all Ithaca College employees ensure appropriate spending practices. In particular, it is key that dollars spent on meals and/or entertainment is relevant, prudent and equitable in its impact on students, faculty and staff.
Meals and Entertainment are defined as the arrangement of activities, events or meals whose purpose is to promote and further the mission of the College, as well as the provision of services or acts in acknowledgement of the contributions to said mission by donors, students, guests, and in some occasions, employees of the College. Again, fiscal prudence should be a guide for all such activity.
Additional restrictions may be imposed by individual departments or units. Please refer to those individual policies/guidelines when planning or partaking in meals and/or entertainment. Additionally, separate guidelines or restrictions may apply with grant funding or other funding sources.
This policy is a framework for the reasonable expenditure of College funds for various categories of events and meals. This policy is not designed to address every situation that may arise.
III. Business Meals/Meetings
Business meals are those provided during business meetings of Ithaca College employees, persons compensated by Ithaca College via professional services contracts, guests, interviewees, and other persons visiting Ithaca College.
Given the source of the funding for these meals/meetings are primarily student dollars, prudence should be used in determining whether food and/or beverages are necessary at the meal/meeting. Additionally, careful consideration should be taken when determining the quantity of food and/or beverages to be purchased for the meal/meeting. Units are encouraged to monitor any excess food and/or beverages at the conclusion of the event and to factor this in when planning for future meals/meetings.
When food and/or beverages for official business meals/meetings are provided on campus using college funds, it is strongly recommended the food and/or beverages are ordered and provided through the Ithaca College Conference and Event Services Office (for traditional catering) or Dining Services. Some reasons for utilizing Ithaca College Conference and Event Services Office (for traditional catering) or Dining Services are: our college commitment to pay a living wage, our local connection with Challenge Industries, to minimize our risk when bringing outside sources of food/beverages to campus, to help in our affordability efforts by employing our students, and to recycle operating dollars internally as opposed to paying out cash to external vendors.
When hosting candidates, consultants, speakers, or other Ithaca College guests, employees are expected to exercise reasonable judgment when selecting the venue and the cost of the meal. It is prudent to have two or three college representatives accompanying the guest(s).
Whenever two or more College employees are in attendance at a business meal, the senior-most employee is responsible for the expense, and should pay for the meal and submit the required documentation for accounting purposes. In search committees, the chairperson of the search committee is considered the senior employee and is thus responsible for the expense, and should pay for the meal and submit the required documentation for accounting purposes. If the chairperson of the search committee is not in attendance, then a designee from the hiring manager or search committee chair will be responsible.
It is allowable for an individual to pay for a meal out of their own pocket (i.e. no college funds). Meals purchased by an individual (i.e. no college funds are utilized) do not need to follow this policy. The College will expect to be reimbursed if a meal(s) is purchased with College funding, but the meal(s) fall outside of the policy.
.IV. Other Meals and Events
Expenses for events other than business meals/meetings can fall into multiple categories, including, but not limited to the following: Board of Trustee, alumni and donor relations social events, retirement and farewell receptions, student recognition events, campus-wide programmatic events, sponsored conferences, seminars and colloquia, training programs, programs sponsored by recognized student organizations, retreats, etc.
Again, given the source of the funding for these meals/events are primarily student dollars, prudence should be used in determining whether food and/or beverage are necessary at the meal/event.
Additionally, careful consideration should be taken when determining the quantity of food and/or beverages to be purchased for the meal/event. Units are encouraged to monitor any excess food and/or beverages at the conclusion of the event and to factor this in when planning for future events.
Departments may host reasonable receptions and provide refreshments at events of this nature and provide, at departmental expense, a modest assortment of refreshments for the anticipated number of participants.
Meals and refreshments can be provided, as appropriate, when students, staff and faculty are serving as volunteers for a college-sponsored program or event.
Meals and refreshments for training sessions, and for college-sponsored programs and events during college breaks or when the resident and retail Dining Services locations are not providing normal operating hours may be necessary and appropriate.
Food and beverages served on campus with college funds should preferably be ordered and provided through the Ithaca College Conference and Event Services Office (for traditional catering) or Dining Services. See rationale for using these internal services above in Section III:
Receptions for Retirement and Farewell Events
This category is defined as events for employees who are leaving or retiring from Ithaca College. Keeping in mind the source of funding for such events, it is strongly recommended the funding is utilized in an efficient manner and units look to have a limited number of events that celebrate multiple employees at the same event.
Retirement and farewell reception packages are available through the Conference and Event Services Office and Dining Services. For package pricing and levels please follow the link: Reception Packages .
The College provides a gift to each retiring employee at the Annual Service Awards Luncheon, any other gifts are to be paid for by friends and colleagues.
Receptions and Refreshments for Student Events
Departments and units may host reasonable receptions for students and student employees and provide, at departmental expense, a modest assortment of refreshments appropriate for the anticipated number of participants.
Under no circumstances should College funds be used to purchase gifts for students (i.e. birthday gifts, holiday gifts, or graduation gifts) although academic and other achievement mementos may be purchased with Ithaca College funds.
The provisions of alcoholic beverages at events held in or on Ithaca College-owned, -leased, or -operated property is regulated by the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. For more in depth information regarding alcohol laws and usage for campus meals and events please visit the Drug and Alcohol Policies and Information section of the policy manual: (https://www.ithaca.edu/policies/vol2/volume_2-208/020808/).
Keeping in mind that alcohol is a particularly expensive beverage choice and given that IC is tuition driven, it is expected that units utilize their utmost discretion when determining if alcohol should be provided at an event. If alcohol is deemed to be appropriate for the event, utmost discretion should be used in determining the amount provided.
Other Functions and Key Life Events for Employees and Immediate Partners
Meals and entertainment expenses associated with individual units/departments seasonal gatherings/meals, birthdays/weddings/baby celebrations, and social gatherings are considered to be personal in nature and may not be paid for using College funds.
Circumstances may occur that would warrant the prudent use of College funds to acknowledge a key life event for an employee or their immediate partner in the form of a greeting card or flowers. An example of this type of situation would be the sudden illness or death of a College employee, their immediate partner or family member, or a College friend or donor.
The cost of printing and mailing invitations to official Ithaca College business functions including retirement receptions may be paid using College funds and ordered through the Center for Print Production or the Campus Store. Greeting and/or seasonal cards and correspondence sent for college donor relations, stewardship and business development are to be produced on campus and are exempt from this policy.
The cost of personal greeting and/or seasonal cards, including mailing expense, may not be paid for with College funds.
V. Required Documentation
In order to comply with IRS regulations, employees must substantiate the date, place, and business purpose of the expenditure. An original itemized receipt must be submitted with an Expense Report Form or attached to the College card statement for approval. Please see the College’s Travel Policy for further details.
VI. Student Organizations and Resident Assistants
Utilization of student organization funds for meals and entertainment purposes must comply with Student Government Council allocation and expenditure policies/guidelines. Programming activities by Resident Assistants must comply with all Residential Life regulations and policies.
Last Updated: November 14, 2019