Business meals not associated with travel are reimbursable to the extent that they are events necessary to the College’s business.  In cases where College employees meet over a meal when they are not traveling, the cost of the meal is considered a non-reimbursable personal expense unless: 1) the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct business, and 2) there is a clear and compelling reason to meet outside the office over a meal. Generally, these requirements are met when it is not possible for one or more employees to meet during other working hours (e.g., when travel plans conflict with other meeting times), and the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda.  IRS regulations do not allow for the reimbursement of meal charges incurred by employees who are not traveling away from home (i.e., their travel does not require an overnight stay) unless the above criteria are met and there is a clear benefit to the College.  Since the primary purpose of such meetings is to conduct business that would otherwise be done at the office except for the reasons mentioned above, there is no reimbursement for alcoholic beverages. Likewise, alcoholic beverages as part of a departmental meeting are not reimbursable. In general, lunches with Mount Holyoke College colleagues are not reimbursable even if business is discussed in the course of the meal.

It is permissible to incur expenses chargeable to the College for meals provided as part of a local conference, seminar, workshop, presentation or other similar group meeting involving employees when it extends through the usual mealtime(s).  Such meals must be reasonable in relation to the nature and purpose of the meeting.

One business meal to welcome a new employee to the College is a covered business expense.

For business meal expenses, all individuals are required to substantiate, in detail, all expenses incurred, and all original itemized receipts for expenses for $25.00 or over must be submitted.  The information should include the following.

  • Who attended and their College relationship
  • Date the meal took place
  • Where the meal took place (name of restaurant)
  • The business purpose of the event
  • The appropriate approval signature

Business meal(s) that involve consultants, or other persons with whom the College does business, or meetings of organizations and groups at which agenda items pertinent to College business are reimbursable. One alcoholic beverage during such business meals is reimbursable. 

Business meal(s) that involve prospective faculty, prospective employees or donors is considered business entertainment.  Please see the entertainment section for additional information.

Business Meals While Traveling

Expenses for meals, including tips, are expected to be reasonable and appropriate to the nature of the College trip.  Individuals who pay for group meals should list the names of the persons for whom the meals are paid, date, place and business purpose.  One alcoholic beverage during a meal is a reimbursable expense per individual. Very expensive bottles of wine, drinks that are not associated with a meal, or drinks taken at a bar will not be reimbursed.  Alcoholic beverages must be reported as a separate item on expense reimbursement forms.