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Alcohol, Meals and Catering Policy


University of the Pacific understands that appropriate and thoughtful use of its resources is a basic and important responsibility in the overall operation of the institution. Because our budgets are supported by students' tuition dollars and donors' benevolent belief in the value of a University of the Pacific education, we have a responsibility as faculty and staff to spend those dollars prudently.

We also understand that meals, catering and entertaining can be valuable in the effective execution of our mission. Therefore, it is necessary to establish reasonable policies which address the important balance of careful and attentive spending with the need to operate as defined below. 


The scope of this policy encompasses all university purchases of alcohol, meals, and catering for faculty, staff, and/or student employees. This policy does not apply to events that include the public (ex. speaker events and engagement, art showings, public receptions, etc.). These events are covered under the Entertainment Policy.

Note divisions, schools, departments may adopt more restrictive policies. It is recommended that you review your divisional, school or department policy to determine if a more restrictive policy applies to you.

Manager/Supervisor Responsibility

Managers and supervisors who approve alcohol, meal and/or catering expenditures are responsible to ensure that this policy is followed. 



Bona Fide Business Purpose

Conducting substantive business functions essential for the university employee to fulfill his/her business purpose for the university.

Business Guest

Business Guests include, but are not limited to:

  • donors,
  • prospective donors,
  • employees (i.e., during special recognition for retirement, service etc., special events for faculty or staff; etc.),
  • external guests who are invited to a university function such as an art show, graduation, alumni engagement,
  • prospective employees (i.e., applicants invited to campus for interviews), and/or
  • visiting dignitaries or lecturers.


Alcohol may not be purchased using university funds (including while traveling on official university business), except in the following circumstances:

  • Meals and/or events with external business guests, or 
  • Special recognition events for employees when approved by the appropriate dean, non-academic department head, or campus director.

Catering/University Dining Services/Meals

On-campus activities, public meetings, private and social events, conferences or other gatherings involving food and beverages, are required to honor the applicable terms of the University Dining Services catering contract for the relevant campus.



Entertainment Meals 

(Those involving Business Guests)

These meals are covered by the university's Entertainment Policy.

Catering/Meals for

Internal Meetings/Events

(Employee only: Faculty/Staff/Student Employees)

In general, the university does not expend funds for snacks, meals or catering to support employee-only meetings and events. However, in certain circumstances such expenditures may be approved, subject to the following guidelines:


  • Infrequent divisional/departmental employee recognition meals/events;
  • The meeting with a purchased or catered meal must encompass a Bona Fide Business Purpose that could not be accomplished in the office during normal business hours or times other than meal times. This can also include lengthy meetings over 90 minutes that overlap with meal times.
  • Light snacks also may be provided for meetings over 120 minutes and do not overlap with meal times.
  • When employee snacks and meals are permissible, they should be of reasonable and appropriate cost. The GSA per diem rate for the location should be consulted as a guideline to determine the reasonable and appropriate cost.
  • To allow for final approval, any request for reimbursement or expense justification for meals between employees using university funds must include: 
    • the Bona Fide Business Purpose for the meeting, 
    • justification for the purchase of food and/or beverage, 
    • an itemized receipt, 
    • the name(s) of the employee(s) and all guests (except in instances where confidentiality/privacy must be maintained).

Meals/Snacks - Travel Between

Campus Locations

In order to encourage cross-collaboration between campuses, meals resulting from travel between campuses will be covered by the institution.

Spouse/Domestic Partner Event Attendance

In general, the alcohol, meals and catering-related expenses of a spouse/domestic partner are not reimbursable and therefore not funded by the university, although some exceptions apply.

Using the Spousal/Domestic Partner Travel/Event Attendance Justification Form, an exception may be granted if the spouse's or domestic partner's attendance has a Bona Fide Business Purpose, has a significant role in the proceedings, or makes an important contribution to the success of an event. For example, the presence of spouses or domestic partners may be required at official university functions, such as alumni gatherings, fund-raising or ceremonial activities, certain athletic events, and community events.

If a spouse/domestic partner does not meet the above conditions, or only performs incidental duties of a social nature, attendance does not constitute a Bona Fide Business Purpose. Therefore such expenses may not be reimbursed under this policy.

Grants/Federal Contracts/Sponsored Programs

All University documentation requirements and guidelines remain in effect for contracts and grants, including those associated with local, state or federal regulations. In addition, all transactions and receipts must comply with the rules and guidelines stated in the grant or contract being charged. This applies to all methods of purchase including check requests, ProCard transactions, and expense reimbursements.

Note that for most grants and contracts, particularly federal grants, the purchase of alcohol is not permitted.

Confidentiality/Privacy Statement

There are some units within the university's operations, i.e. Ombuds, Title IX, Internal Audit and General Counsel, where information that is normally required (e.g. names and specific business purpose) for meals and/or entertainment transactions may not be disclosed for confidentiality or privacy reasons. However, in these instances, the following documentation is still required:

  1. the number of diners listed with a reason why names are not provided,
  2. receipts/information consisting of location name and date,
  3. the Bona Fide Business Purpose, and
  4. itemized receipt(s).

Audit and Tax Disclosure

The Office of Internal Audit routinely reviews meal and entertainment expenditures to monitor compliance with university policies and procedures, as well as regulatory agency requirements. In addition, all university transactions are subject to external review by external auditor, tax counsel, and regulatory agencies.

Compliance and Violations

Any employee who violates this policy or otherwise fails to comply with its provisions may be required to reimburse the University for the expense and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Contact Information

Questions regarding the review process or signature authority should be directed to Budget and Financial Services.  


About This Policy
Last Updated
Original Issue Date

Responsible Department
Business Operations