Charging Meals to Federal and State Grants
This policy applies only to accounts in the following account range: 630xxx-637999 and 223000-223899
This section provides supplemental interpretation of federal regulations contained in Circular A-21 concerning charging food and refreshments to federal grants while not on travel status.
Note that UT Dallas Policy may permit spending UT Dallas funds for these types of expenses but they may not be allowable on sponsored projects. In these cases, the cost should be charged to a faculty or departmental discretionary account.
The cost of purchased meals while not on travel status will normally not be allowed as a direct charge to a federal or state grant because the UT Dallas employee is not "traveling" and the cost is normally considered a personal expense. However, when a food or beverage cost meets the following three criteria, and the Principal Investigator (PI) provides written justification of the business purpose of the expenditures and how they relate to the specific sponsored project, (including purpose of the meeting, list of attendees, beginning and end times), a meal cost may be charged to a sponsored project. The applicable criteria are:
- The cost must be allowable under both the provisions of A-21 AND under the terms of a specific award. The food and beverages must not be directly related to a social event.
- The cost must be allocable, that is, the project which pays the expense must benefit from it. More specifically, the food and beverage must be integral to a project-related event.
- The cost must be reasonable, that is the cost reflects what a "prudent person" would pay in a similar circumstance.
Examples of allowable food charges:
- Lunch and refreshments provided for periodic all-day meeting of collaborators on a program project (with formal agenda and participants from different locations).
- A post-doc being recruited to fill an open position on a research grant travels to UTD. Her/his meal may be charged to the grant since she/he is on travel status, but the PI's meal may not.
Examples of unallowable food charges:
- Lab personnel meet weekly to discuss progress on the grant.
- PI has lunch/dinner with a colleague and discusses research.
To document the charging of meal expenditures to federal or state grants, complete the meal justification form located here. Attach the completed form to the request for reimbursement and submit it to Procurement. Please contact the Contract and Grant Accounting Office for further clarification.
- "Guidelines on Expenditure of Funds for Food and/or Refreshments":
Last Updated: August 8, 2012