State funds can only purchase food used directly in teaching or research and must be documented on the payment request. Expense object code 4050 should be used.
All consumable food purchases must be made on local funds and must include the business purpose for the food and who will consume the food.
- To consider a food purchase catered, the vendor must serve the food and expense object code 6338 should be used.
- A business meal can be defined as food purchased while attending a meeting with colleagues or other business associates and expense object code 6340 should be used. The IRS requires "who, what, when, where and why" documentation for business meals and alcohol. The IRS considers this entertainment and if not documented properly will be considered a taxable benefit to the employee and must be taxed. This is why it is important to document correctly the purchase of all food and alcohol. Alcohol should be coded with expense object code 6341.
- Allowable food purchases other than for business meals should be coded with expense object code 6339.
A meal eaten alone in your office does not qualify as a business meal and the cost cannot be reimbursed as such. This would violate Texas A&M System Policy 33.04: Use of System Resources and Texas A&M System Policy 07.01: Ethics.
Expenditures for food and/or refreshments from local funds are authorized to the extent such expenditures enable the state agency to carry out their educational function, serve to promote education in the state of Texas, and provide an important public service. Texas A&M System's interpretation of Texas A&M System Policy 21.01.12: Purchase of Food and Refreshments states that food and refreshments that are provided for the office for employee consumption is considered a form of recognition for providing service to the university. This is not an entitlement and these purchases are still at the discretion of each department.
Expenditures on local accounts for food and/or refreshments must comply with one or more of the following direct purposes:
- The recognition or promotion of academic achievement, athletic achievement, scholarship and/or service to a component of the Texas A&M System or the state;
- The promotion of the communication of intellectual ideas among students, faculty, staff, administrators and/or representatives of the public;
- The support of student events and activities which are sponsored by a component of the Texas A&M System;
- The recruitment of highly qualified faculty, staff and students;
- The promotion of the exchange of ideas with community leaders regarding the role of a component of the Texas A&M System in the community;
- The assistance of the Regents, accrediting agencies, officials from other universities and/or public officials in inspecting and reviewing the facilities and programs of a component of the Texas A&M System;
- The support of a program of continuing education sponsored by a component of the Texas A&M System; or
- The conduct of staff conferences and receptions or other events designed to recognize and honor employees.
The following categories of funds may be used to purchase food and/or refreshments for the purposes listed above:
- Balances in accounts funded from student service fees, bookstore allocations, and university/college concessions may be used to purchase food and/or refreshments to the extent that such funds have been budgeted
- Donated unrestricted funds and funds received as registration fees for continuing education conferences and short courses may be used to purchase food and/or refreshments where provisions have been included in the registration fee
- Funds raised and/or earned by student organizations may be used for the purchase of food and/or refreshments
- Other locally generated income not restricted to administrative, education and general, research, plant expansion, loan, endowment, and/or scholarship programs may be used to purchase food and/or refreshments