Washington State University

Revised 6-15
Accounts Payable
Travel Services

Buying Meals or Light Refreshments for Meetings

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The purchase of food for meetings is subject to state and University regulations.


Procedures in this section apply to purchases made with all University monies except for discretionary accounts in program 17A. See 70.33 to make purchases using a 17A discretionary account.

NOTE: Sponsored accounts may have additional restrictions regarding the purchase of food for meetings.

Conditions for Meals

University monies may be used to pay for meals without regard for participants' travel status or the Three-Hour Rule (see 95.06) if the following conditions are met:


The cost of meals may not be supported by University monies when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct one of the following kinds of activities:

Cost Per Meal

Cost per meal served may not exceed the applicable travel meal limits for the location. See 95.19 for travel meal rates.

Enter the applicable cost per meal on the Request to Serve Food form.


The meeting must be away from the employee's regular work place. (See 95.01 for a definition of work place.)

Conditions for Refreshments

Light refreshments include nonalcoholic beverages and edible items commonly served between meals, but not intended to substitute for meals, e.g., coffee, soft drinks, doughnuts, sweet rolls, fruit, cheese.

University monies may be used to support the costs of light refreshments, subject to the following conditions:


The purpose of the meeting must be to conduct official WSU business or to provide formal training to WSU employees. The light refreshments must be essential for the completeness (i.e., an integral part) of an official University meeting or training session.


The cost of light refreshments may not be supported by University monies when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct one of the following kinds of activities:


Complete a Request to Serve Food form to obtain prior approval to serve meals or light refreshments. Obtain supplies of the form by completing and/or printing or photocopying the master on 70.31.5.

List of Attendees

The request form must include a list of participants, indicating each participant's relationship to the University, e.g., employee, official, guest.

NOTE: When seeking approval for refreshments, this list may include the names of the participating organizations or groups when the number of participants is large or when the names of participants are unknown.

State Facility

Indicate whether or not a state of Washington facility is to be used for the event. State regulations require that state facilities be given preference when possible. (SAAM 10.10.55) See 95.06 for information about conferences and conventions.

Prior Approval

An expenditure from University monies for meals or light refreshments must be approved by the responsible chair or director at least five working days before the event. The responsible chair or director indicates approval on a completed Request to Serve Food form by signing the Certification near the bottom of the form.

Route a copy of the approved form to Accounts Payable.


A department may directly pay the vendor or reimburse an employee for incurred food expenses.

Requesting Reimbursement

When an employee personally pays for the meals or refreshments, submit a request for reimbursement to the appropriate division of the Controller's Office. Include the following documents:

Direct Deposit

A WSU employee may authorize Accounts Payable or Travel Services to deposit his or her food or travel reimbursement in any domestic bank that is a member of an automated clearing house. See 95.21 to request direct deposit.

Direct Vendor Payment

The department may pay a vendor directly by using one of the following procedures:


Complete a Department Order. Follow procedures in 70.07.

Departmental Requisition

Complete a Departmental Requisition prior to the event. (Purchasing Services generates a Purchase Order, which is given to the vendor at the time the food is obtained.) Follow procedures in 70.10.


Complete an Interdepartmental Requisition and Invoice if the vendor is a University organization, e.g., Dining Service, CUB. Follow procedures in 70.05.

Purchasing Card

Use a departmental purchasing card. Follow procedures in 70.08

NOTE: A purchasing card may not be used to purchase meals that include alcoholic beverages, or to purchase drinking water where potable water is available. (See 70.08.)

Vendor's Invoice

Obtain an invoice for the meals or refreshments from the vendor. If the vendor's address and name is not on the invoice, complete a State of Washington Invoice Voucher and obtain the vendor's signature on the form.

A University purchasing form is not required for this procedure.

Submit the vendor's invoice to Accounts Payable. Add the coding of the supporting account. A University employee with expenditure authority for the supporting account must sign the invoice. (See 70.02 for an explanation of expenditure authority.)

NOTE: The total cost may not exceed the current purchasing bid limit. See 70.13.

See the PDF form:
70.31.5: Request to Serve Food
Complete and/or print as needed.