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Chapters:

Food and Beverage

Allowability of Food and Beverage Costs

Food and/or beverage expenses provided by recipients are allowable subject to conditions below:

  • You provide food and/or beverages to participants at training sessions, meetings, or conferences that are allowable activities under the particular OJP program guidelines.
  • As the recipient, you comply with the applicable definitions for food and beverages contained in the Financial Guide Glossary of Terms.

Costs for food and/or beverages provided at training sessions, meetings, or conferences must satisfy the following three tests:

  • Test 1—The cost of the food and/or beverages provided is considered to be reasonable;
  • Test 2—The food and/or beverages provided are incidental to a work-related event; and
  • Test 3—The food and/or beverages provided are not related directly to amusement and/or social events. Any event where alcohol is being served is considered a social event and, therefore, costs associated with that event are not allowable.

To determine whether costs associated with food and/or beverages are allowable, you or your subrecipient must consider the “who” (audience) and “what” (condition) of the situation in which the food and/or beverages will be served. For example:

  • To whom the food and/or beverages will be provided;
  • Under what conditions (e.g., training) the food and/or beverages will be provided; and
  • That the appropriate three tests have been satisfied.
Examples
Allowable Food and Beverage Costs
A recipient sponsors an all-day training event at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel to discuss policy topics. The event includes a working lunch with a speaker at which food and beverages are offered. The recipient invites Federal agency employees, its own employees, and people who are not associated with either the Federal agency or the recipient. This scenario passes all three tests; therefore, food and beverages may be provided with grant funds.
Unallowable Food and Beverage Costs
A recipient offers a hospitality suite the night before its conference at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel. The recipient invites Federal agency employees, its own employees, and people who are not associated with either the Federal agency or the recipient. Even though the conference is work-related, the hospitality suite is considered a social event. This scenario fails the third test because food and beverages must not be directly related to amusement or social events. Although the conference is work-related, the part of it that takes place in the hospitality suite is purely social. Therefore, food and beverages may not be provided with grant funds.

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Anyone claiming the maximum daily reimbursement rates (per diem) for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) who attends any events at which food and beverages are provided must deduct the allowance for such meals (i.e., working lunch/dinner) from his/her per diem claim. For more information on the requirements regarding furnished meals see Chapter 301 of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR).

Checklist: Ten Things to Do When Providing Food and/or Beverages under OJP Awards

Download checklist [PDF - 59 Kb]

  1. Provide a speaker/program at a working lunch or dinner (a working breakfast is not allowable).
  2. Support the event with a formal agenda.
  3. Make the event mandatory for all participants.
  4. Do not pay for bar charges using registration fees (i.e., program income).
  5. Do not make alcohol available at the event.
  6. Provide appropriate break foods.
  7. Provide several hours of substantive information both before and after food and/or beverages are served. (Please note that viewing exhibits is not considered to be substantive information.)
  8. Do not end events with a meal and/or break.
  9. Keep costs reasonable (see next section on minimizing costs).
  10. Advise participants to reduce per diem appropriately.

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