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Index > Operations Policies > Catering and Entertainment Policy

Catering and Entertainment Policy


These guidelines are intended to provide guidance on the appropriate use of college funds in the area of business entertainment, catering for events at the college or when traveling on college business, and to ensure compliance with IRS regulations related to business expenses.


The policy applies to all faculty, staff, students and others who incur meal expenses while engaged in RISD business or related travel, as well as all departments and college personnel who entertain and/or purchase food for campus meetings/events.

Policy Statement

This policy is created to ensure compliance with IRS regulations on business expenses and use of college funds.


Key Life Events: An employee’s birth/adoption of a child, wedding shower, baby shower, birthday parties.

Business Meal: A meal taken with business associates, RISD guests, job applicants, professional colleagues, or donors, during which RISD business is discussed and there is a valid Business Purpose for the meal.

Business Purpose: A statement that adequately describes the expense as a necessary, reasonable and appropriate business expense for the School. All expenses must support or advance the goals, objectives and mission of RISD.

Major Holiday Events: an established RISD-wide holiday, e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

Catering & Entertainment Expenses: The provisions of food, beverages, activities, or events for the purpose of promoting and furthering the mission of the School.


Wherever possible, it is preferable for committee or business meetings to be scheduled during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM). When meetings are scheduled during the lunch period, departments, offices and committees are strongly encouraged to make them “brown bag” meetings; however, if meetings are scheduled outside normal business hours, departments, offices and committees retain the discretion to purchase food.


  • At no time may alcoholic beverages be served to anyone under 21 years of age.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages while conducting school business should be kept to a minimum and after regular working hours.
  • College funds may be used to pay for or reimburse expenditures of alcoholic beverages and business entertainment costs when the purpose is fundraising, promotion of the College, entertainment for guests of the College, cultivating a donor/prospect, or engaging alumni. These expenses must be pre-approved by the Vice President, Division Dean or Provost and should be reasonable, prudent, appropriate to the occasion, and have a legitimate business purpose.
  • During a candidate or business meetings, one alcoholic beverage per attendee is authorized; any additional alcoholic drinks would be considered a personal expense.
  • College funds may be used for the cost of alcoholic beverages for appropriate events, subject to the approval of the hosting department’s Vice President, Division Dean/Department Head or Manager prior to the event. Examples of appropriate events include planned or public occasions for the benefit of entertaining guests or alumni of the school.
    • Alcohol is not authorized for departmental, holiday or other staff/faculty meetings.
  • All events including the service of alcohol on the RISD campus, within a RISD building, or a RISD sponsored event adjacent to campus (example: craft fair) require that a RISD Public Safety officer be present. The event must also be staffed by a bartender hired by Dining + Catering. Event planners must complete an Alcohol Use Regulations Form and submit it to Public Safety and Dining + Catering at least two weeks prior to the event. When reconciling alcohol charges for the event, the Alcohol Use Regulations Form must be attached showing the use of alcohol was approved. RISD will not cover any alcohol expenditures for those traveling on college business.
  • Alcohol cannot be purchased for faculty or staff related parties or meetings.
  • Alcohol when authorized must be part of a meal.
Business Meals, Entertainment and Catering

The number of RISD hosts accompanying a guest for a meal should not exceed four.

  • Reimbursement for employees' family members is not permitted.
  • Alcoholic beverages may be reimbursed as part of a business meal, but must be in compliance with the Alcoholic Beverages Policy (listed above). It is required that itemized meal receipts are provided.
  • College funds may be used to pay for food or refreshments at events recognizing group achievements, major holiday events, or employee retirements subject to the approval of the Vice President, Division Dean, Provost or the President.
  • College funds may be used to pay for food or refreshments at Departmental/Divisional meetings when pre-approved by the Vice President, Division Dean or Provost.
  • College funds may be used to entertain candidates at lunch and to take new employees to lunch on their first day.
  • College funds shall not be used to pay for celebratory events for employee key life events as defined above.
  • Meals or beverages in local restaurants with only RISD faculty or administrative staff in attendance are not permitted with the exception of taking a new employee to lunch on their first day.
  • College funds should not be used to buy food or refreshments for events personal in nature/not considered business events, such as employee key life events.
  • Purchases of alcoholic beverages are not permitted unless for an appropriate event as defined above and with prior approval.
  • Recommended price ranges:
    Breakfast (Continental w/ coffee), on campus $8.00 - $11.00 per person
    Lunch (regular meeting), on campus $13.00 - $17.00 per person
    Dinner (at a local restaurant) $25.00 - $45.00 per person
    Dinner (regular committee/business meeting), on campus $17.00 - $20.00 per person

The GSA website provides recommended price ranges for meals.


For events hosted on campus, employees are strongly encouraged to use RISD’s Dining and Catering Services.

Pre-Approval Requirements

Purchase of alcoholic beverages for appropriate events (defined above) must be pre-approved by the Division/Department Head or Manager (see above for additional approval levels).

Payment Procedures

Individuals can use their Travel & Entertainment Card or complete the Supplier Invoice Request in Workday to pay for all catering and entertainment expenses. A detailed description of the purpose or function of the event/meal must be included. An itemized receipt showing all meals and beverages must be included in the expense or invoice request. When there are alcohol charges for an event, the Alcohol Use Regulations Form must be attached showing the use of alcohol was approved. All expenses must be reviewed by the applicable approver.

Revision history

This policy was created on: November 1, 2013, as part of the original Travel and Expense Policy

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 10/5/2021

This policy was approved as of: 10/5/2021

Next scheduled review: As needed.


Issuing Office

Controller’s Office

Responsible Officer

Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Procurement Services

Credit Card Services and Reimbursement Administrator