Policy Notes: Business Meals

The primary purpose of a business meal is to conduct University business with guests or other employees of the University. Accordingly, business meals include two or more persons. Faculty and staff should show prudence and fiscal responsibility in providing Stanford-paid meals during the conduct of Stanford internal meetings during the work day. A business meal can occur while traveling, and is treated separately from a travel meal.

Travel meals are ordinary and necessary meal expenses incurred when traveling away from home for Stanford business. For more detail, see Travel Meal Policy.

Learn more about Business and Travel Expense Reimbursement Policy.

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Business meals require a significant commitment of time and financial resources. Accordingly, the number of such events should be limited. It would be an extraordinary circumstance for an individual to participate in Stanford business meals on a weekly basis. Where possible, meetings should be conducted during the remaining hours of the workday.

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Preferred Payment Methods

Stanford Purchasing Card (PCard) is preferred for local business meals.

Whether you use a Stanford PCard or request reimbursement after using personal funds, the same guidelines must be followed for meal expenditures and documentation.

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Business Meal Maximums

The university has established limits on maximum university reimbursement for specific types of business and travel expenses, including business meals. It is expected that, as stewards of university resources, employees continue to consistently stay well below these maximums.

  • The maximums below include the actual cost per person for food, tax, tip and alcohol (excludes room rental and non-food costs).
  • Individual Schools and units may choose to set lower limits and/or may require all receipts to be submitted.
Business Meal Maximums per person
Meal Before 5/1/2019 After 5/1/2019
Breakfast $12-20 $35
Lunch $18-35 $60
Dinner $36-80 $125
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Business Meals while Traveling

A business meal can occur while traveling, and is treated separately from a travel meal. When a business meal occurs while traveling, a deduction must be made from the applicable reimbursement method. This includes when a business meal occurs while traveling. Refer to meal deduction guidelines on the Travel Meals page.

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Documentation of Expenses

Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all expenses paid by the University. For expense reports that include meals, itemized receipts for meals costing greater than $75 must be provided.

Documentation of business meals must include:

  • Itemized receipts for transactions of $75 or more.
  • The date of the expense and name and address of the location of the meal.
  • The business outcome, or the expected outcome from the meal.
  • The names of the participants and their titles or other information establishing their business relationship with the individual incurring the expense. For groups of 10 or less, please list the attendees in the remarks section. For 11 or more, please attach an attendee list.
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