Business Meals and Hospitality


This policy states the requirements for business meal and hospitality expense reimbursements.

Policy Statement 

Business Meals

  • Brown University reimburses employees for both travel business meal expenses.
  • All University funds-including gifts, grants, and contracts, shall be used in a reasonable and prudent manner and only for activities related to Brown’s primary mission of education, research and public service. 
  • Meal expenditures that exceed guidelines require Senior Officer approval.  A Senior Officer is a member of the President’s Cabinet.
  • Non routine business meals (holiday event, summer outing, etc.) may be reimbursed with sufficient explanation or with a Senior Officer approval.  Expenses incurred in relation to the following events are not reimbursable:  birthdays, weddings, births, showers, etc.
  • The number of Brown hosts accompanying a guest for lunch or dinner should be no more than four.  (
  • Reimbursement for family members is not permitted unless there is a specific business purpose for the family member’s attendance at the event. IRS publication 463 states: “you generally cannot deduct the cost of entertainment for your spouse or for the spouse of a customer. However, you can deduct these costs if you can show you had a clear business purpose, rather than a personal or social purpose, for providing the entertainment.”

Alcoholic Beverages

  • At no time may alcoholic beverages be served to minors.
  • The use of alcoholic beverages while in the conduct of University business should be kept to a minimum.
  • In no instance may alcoholic beverages be charged to federally funded grants or contracts, either directly or indirectly. 
  • Travel Meals and Alcoholic beverages:  The cost of alcoholic beverages must be charged to the Exclusions spend item.  It may not be charged to travel meals.
  • Business Meals and alcoholic beverages:  All University sponsored events held on campus, at which alcoholic beverages are served, require that either Brown Dining or the Faculty Club (or their approved substitute) be engaged for the purpose or providing and serving these beverages.
  • Serving alcoholic beverages at a University event held off campus, such as in an employee’s private home, is strongly discouraged.  In such instances where alcoholic beverages are to be available, the sponsor of the event must complete and have approved the statement of Responsibility for Alcoholic Beverages form, and attach the form to the request for reimbursement.

Business meals are those taken with business associates, university guests, job applicants, professional colleagues, or donors, during which University business discussions take place or hospitality is extended to distinguished guests.

  • Meals between two or more employees during which routine business issues are discussed are not reimbursable, however,
  • Business meals taken with other employees when, to ensure privacy and confidentiality, business must be conducted off campus, may be reimbursed.
  • When authorized by the department head, business meals may also be taken for the purpose of employee recognition or reward. 
  • All reimbursements for business meals must include the Hospitality Form.
  • Receipts are required for all business meals and entertainment expenses.
    • Use a Missing Receipt Affidavit Form if a receipt has been lost or misplaced.
  • Business meals must be charged to the business meals expense item and may not be charged to any travel expense item.  
Frequently Asked Questions

When would I use the spend category for Business Meals vs. Food and Provisions?
Although there is some overlap, generally use Food and Provisions are from grocery stores, convenience stores, or other mass retailers. Use Business Meals when you use a restaurant or an outside caterer.  

Policy Owner
Approved by 
Assistant Vice President and University Controller

Raquel Almeida
Senior Accounts Payable Specialist 

John Haden
Accounts Payable Manager

Doreen Burgers
Director of University Disbursements

Revision Date:  Thu, 2016-01-14 12:52