Why are changes, such as restrictions on holiday parties, being implemented?
While there is undoubtedly value in events such as holiday parties and occasional departmental meals, and Procurement Services acknowledges that these changes are challenging for the University community, they exist to distinguish between necessity and amenity. To ensure responsible stewardship of student tuition dollars, we ask for and share in the sacrifices required to appropriately limit spending where possible, reasonable and feasible. Many of these changes are also consistent with the policies of similarly situated colleges and universities.
Finally, Drexel is subject to Internal Revenue Service rules with respect to tax treatment of business expenses, including business meals. Meals considered lavish or extravagant could lead to tax penalties and reimbursement, as well as additional taxable income to the employee.
Do these Guidelines cover meals purchased while traveling on Drexel business?
When is the Business Meal Expense Approval Form required and why?
The Business Meal Expense Approval Form [PDF] is only required when meals are paid for with personal funds and reimbursement is sought. Where meals are paid for with a Drexel P-Card, the information requested on the Business Meal Expense Approval Form (date, location, business purpose, and the identity of attendees, including their relationship to the hosting party) are required to be included in the P-Card transaction notes. This information is required to establish the legitimacy of the business expense in the event of an audit by the IRS.
When the Business Meal Expense Approval Form is required, does it need to be submitted in advance of the meal?
No. While pre-approval is preferred in order to ensure departmental authorization of the expenses, the Business Meal Expense Approval Form may be submitted as soon as possible after the meal occurs.
My department occasionally incurs meal expenses as part of faculty recruitment. Is this still permitted under the new Guidelines?
Yes. Documented meal expenses related to professional recruitment activities and approved by the cost center approver remain allowable under the Guidelines.
A Drexel colleague and I went out for coffee and a snack to discuss job strategies and approaches to challenges we both face. Can I be reimbursed for the expense?
No. Routine discussion of general job duties and responsibilities are not considered reimbursable by the University.
I want to order $150 in prepared food for a department event. Procurement Services and my cost center approver have indicated that the expense is permitted and approved. Can I still order the food even though the cost is over the $100 catering threshold mentioned in the Guidelines?
Yes, provided you receive approval from Drexel Business Services after completing a Catering Exception Request Form prior to the event. Please note, however, that Business Services' approval of the exception request does NOT represent approval of the expense as a business meal and a contract is required if the caterer is providing staff on campus.
Other scenarios in which use of the University’s designated food service caterer is not required include:
- Purchases of less than $100
- Pretzels and/or water ice
I am holding a meeting with my team from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. because it was the only available time slot for the attendees. I feel bad asking my team to attend a meeting during the lunch hour. Can I provide a meal?
No. The Guidelines state that in order for a meal to be considered integral to the meeting, it must occur during a regularly accepted mealtime and take place over two or more hours. Because this is a one-hour meeting, it does not qualify as a permitted business meeting meal.
My department holds a leadership team meeting once per month. As a gesture of appreciation, we order lunch for everyone and eat during the meeting. Is this an acceptable business meal expense?
No. Although the meal occurs during work hours and is intended to promote team morale, the meal is not "necessary and integral to the business meeting." Additionally, provision of meals for routine meetings is not permitted.
My department is holding an event for students related to an academic program we support. We would like to serve coffee and donuts to students who attend. Is this a permitted expense?
Provided the event is part of a University program and is held in furtherance of a defined business or academic objective, Procurement Services will defer to the discretion of the relevant cost center approver.
My academic department invites guest speakers at Drexel conferences/symposia to dinner with faculty and students. The dinners are a beneficial opportunity for faculty and student development and networking. Is this acceptable under the Guidelines?
Yes, provided the business purpose of the meal is clearly identified and your cost center approver permits the expense. Note that a list of attendees must be provided for audit purposes.
An employee in my department is retiring, and we would like to hold a retirement celebration for her, including food and refreshments. Is this an allowable business meal expense?
Meal expenses for retirement celebrations for employees who have been with Drexel for 10 years or more and who have provided exemplary service are permissible, provided the expenses are reasonable (maximum of $30/person) and all other meal expense/reimbursement procedures are followed. Please note that Drexel funds may not be used for purely personal celebrations (e.g., birthday parties, baby showers, etc.) or farewell gatherings for non-retirement purposes.
Does the University allow the use of the P-Card for making purchases for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, etc.?
No. University funds may not be used for occasions including, but not limited to, holiday parties, employee birthdays, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, or other occasions of a personal nature. If departments wish to purchase an appreciation gift to a specific individual or entity, a collection of personal funds should be used. If there is an essential need to purchase such special occasional purchases related to job performance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.