Meeting and Entertainment Expenses

At UCSF "(business) meetings" means expenditures for meals or light refreshments and related services (e.g., labor charges, room rental, equipment rental, and similar expenditures) incurred in connection with meetings of employees to conduct official University business. At least one University employee or other individual representing the University must be present at any business meeting that includes non-University persons.

"Entertainment" means expenditures for meals or light refreshments and related services (e.g., labor charges, room rental, equipment rental, decorations, flowers, and similar expenditures) incurred in connection with events that are primarily social or recreational activities in support of the University's mission. These activities must support an underlying University business purpose such as promoting goodwill or cultivating donors. Entertainment usually has a guest-host relationship, in which an official guest or guests attend an event, at the invitation of a UCSF host, for a business purpose. Although administrative meetings might not typically include a guest-host relationship, they too may incur allowable entertainment expenses. In general, entertainment expenses must be cost effective and make the best use of public funds.

Read the full policy: University of California – Policy BUS 79: Expenditures for Business Meetings, Entertainment, and Other Occasions

Allowable Expenses

Unallowable Expenses

Some entertainment expenditures cannot be reimbursed because of the nature of the event or expenditure:

  • Entertainment expenses that are lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
  • Expenses that represent additional taxable income to an employee or student under IRS regulations.
  • Monetary contributions to a political campaign or candidate
  • Entertainment expenses for:
    • Employee birthdays
    • Weddings
    • Anniversaries
    • Farewell gatherings (excluding retirement or an employee with at least five years of service)
    • The purchase of property or services for personal use or for a non-business reason
    • Expenditures using restricted funds that are not permitted under the terms governing those funds
  • When two or more employees choose to go to lunch together to continue their business as an incidental part of the meal, when the meal is reciprocal in nature or when the meeting could have been scheduled during regular business hours.
  • Business meals that are frequent or occur on a routine basis, such as light refreshments provided at weekly departmental staff meetings. This type of expenditure is treated as taxable income by the IRS.

Exceptional Expenses

Some occasions and entertainment circumstances are considered exceptional and require both departmental and an additional approval. The circumstances below require approval by the Chancellor or the Chancellor's designee.

Maximum Meal Expenses

If you entertain guests as a matter of official UC San Francisco business, read the guidelines below for details about the per-person maximum allowable expense for meals.

Note: Effective July 1, 2022, in response to soaring food prices, the University of California Office of the President has increased the meal rates for business travel and entertainment. Business and Finance Bulletin BUS-79, Expenditures for Entertainment, Business Meetings, and Other Occasions, will be revised to include this information.

The maximum amount per person that can be reimbursed for allowable entertainment occasions varies depending on the type of meal served.

Meal Type

Maximum per person
on or after 11/1/2021

Maximum per person on or after 7/1/2022
Breakfast $28 $31
Lunch $49 $54
Dinner $85 $94
Light Refreshment $20 $22

These amounts include the cost of food and beverages, labor, sales tax, service and delivery charges. The cost of room rental, room set-up fees, media rental and decorations, etc., are not included in the per-person costs unless these costs cannot be separated by the vendor.

Fund Source Restrictions

Alcohol. Only a limited number of funding sources permit the purchase of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. These product purchases may not be charged to federal or state funds.

Frequency Rules. In order to keep the value of meals provided to employees from being considered taxable income, the meals should only be provided infrequently. UCOP has provided guidelines for providing meals and light refreshments in connection with business meetings, entertainment event, or employee morale- building activity:

  • Meals should be limited to no more than once a month or 12 times per year, per group.
  • Light refreshments should be limited to no more than twice per month, per group.

Contracting with Vendors

  • When contracting with a non-UC facility (e.g., hotel, conference center, restaurant), you must work with your Supply Chain Management (SCM) Department-Assigned Buyer to have the contract reviewed and approved before the event. Submit your request in BearBuy using the Facility Rental form. The purchase requisition will be reviewed by your Department-Assigned Buyer. Start early and allow sufficient time for Supply Chain Management’s review, potential changes, and negotiation with the vendor. Once the requisition is fully approved, a purchase order (PO) will be dispatched to the vendor. Then, you can request payment of any deposit or payment due by following the Facility Rental Payment Processing Instructions.
  • Note: An agreement regarding logistics only (e.g., food, price, attendee count) with no binding contractual language does not require review by your Department-Assigned Buyer and should not be submitted on the Facility Rental form. These simple confirmations do not need to be routed to a Buyer, as long as the confirmation does not include any terms and conditions. Please refer to Payments to Vendors below.


  • Keep all of your documentation related to the event in one location or folder.
  • Keep detailed receipts for all expenses and a list of attendees including their titles.
  • Keep copies of documents before you send them to other departments, vendors, or individuals.

Approvals Required

All expenses related to meeting and entertainment will require approval from an individual who has been given approval authority and has a signature card on file with Accounts Payable or was granted an “authorized approver” role in MyExpense.

Exceptional or Additional Approval

Exceptional or additional approval is required for all: employee morale-building and recognition activities; tickets provided to prospective donors, employees or student appointees; entertainment of the spouse or domestic partner of the official host or guest.  Only select individuals throughout the campus have been delegated this authority (Chancellor, VCs, Deans, plus a few high-level other employees). Review the UCSF Travel and Entertainment Approval Matrix to determine who has exceptional approval for your area. Exceptional approvals are submitted to Accounts Payable using the Supplemental Form for Contracted Facility Rental and Exceptional Meeting & Entertainment Expenses.

Activity Host * Additional Approval **
Business Meetings    

Meals provided to employees, visitors from other educational institutions, members of the community, medical center visitors, or employees from another work location where there is a valid business purpose for the meeting. The meeting must have at least one employee present.

No No
Programmatic Activities    

Meals provided to volunteers and research subjects (clinical trials).

No No

Athletic team meals, including training-table meals, game-related meals, and occasional meals provided in accordance with NCAA rules.

No No

Class, study hall, or other academic-based activities.

No No

Student orientation programs, commencement exercises, and similar activities.

No No

Student government meetings, association meetings, or other student meetings.

No No

Meals provided to prospective employees.

Yes No

Meals associated with the recruitment of student athletes and scholars.

Yes No
Employee Morale-Building Activities    

Meals provided to employees as part of a morale-building activity, including retirement and recognition receptions, etc.

Yes Yes
On-the-Job Meals    

Meals provided to an employee during work hours as a requirement of the employee’s job (HR policy applies).

No No

Meals provided to prospective donors.

Yes No

Meals provided to visitors from other educational institutions, members of the community, medical center visitors, or employees from another work location where the purpose of the activity is social or recreational.

Yes No

Tickets provided to prospective donors, employees, or student appointees in connection with an entertainment event.

Yes Yes

Meals provided to a spouse or domestic partner.

Yes Yes

Cash contributions related to an entertainment event.

Yes Yes

* Campuses may require the signature of the individual requesting payment in those situations that do not require the host signature. Electronic workflow methods of obtaining host approval are acceptable in lieu of a “wet” signature. Meals also include light refreshments unless otherwise noted.


** Approval as an exception to policy is required for any expenditure that exceeds the maximum per-person rates for meals and light refreshments. Electronic workflow methods of obtaining additional approval are acceptable provided that the approver has delegated authority and budgetary approval over the account being charged.


Purchasing Catering & Facility Rentals

The following guidelines pertain to UCSF campus departments. 


  • As a best practice, Campus departments should purchase catering using the methods above.
  • Use personal funds to purchase catering only if you are not able to use the methods above.
  • Reimbursement requests must be submitted through MyExpense.
  • The expense report should be submitted within 45 days after the last purchase date. Payments of reimbursement requests submitted after 60 days will be reported as taxable income, read more about late expense reports.
  • A reimbursement request is generally submitted after the event and provides the business justification, total expense, a list of attendees (including their titles), funding sources, types of meeting, date of meeting, etc.
  • The expense report must be routed to the appropriate Authorized Approver.
  • Expenses of $75 or more per occasion must be supported by original itemized receipts, which must be submitted with the request for payment. If you've lost or misplaced the receipt and cannot obtain a duplicate receipt or an itemized original receipt is not available, please attach the Declaration of Missing Receipt Form to your expense report.

Note: Expenses related to an employee's birthday celebration, wedding, anniversary, or other personal occasion are not reimbursable.


Last Updated: September 2022