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University Meals Policy

University Meals Policy

Business Affairs
Date enacted or revised: 
August 15, 2011; Revised January 6, 2016; Revised April 26, 2018; October 8, 2019


The purpose of this policy is to provide information and guidance relating to meals paid by the University with public funds.  Meals are classified as a Special Meals, Conference Meals, or Other Permissible Meals.  The department head and University President must approve in advance all meals described in the policy.
Special Meals
State of Louisiana Travel Regulations, PPM 49, Section S1509 contains provisions that recognize and regulate Special Meals. Special Meals should be extraordinary in nature, reasonable, and must be in the best interest of the University. Only meals classified and described below qualify:
  1. Visiting dignitaries or executive-level persons from other governmental units, and persons providing identified gratuity services to the State. This explicitly does not include normal visits, meetings, reviews, etc, by federal or local representatives.
  2. Extraordinary situations when State employees are required by their supervisor to work more than a twelve-hour weekday or six-hour weekend (when such are not normal working hours to meet crucial deadlines or to handle emergencies).
  3. A department head may authorize a Special Meal within allowable rates listed under Meals-Tier 1, to be served in conjunction with a working meeting of department staff.

All Special Meals must have prior written approval from the President. Special Meals not approved in advance by the President will not be reimbursed by the University. Petty cash funds may not be used as a source for reimbursement for Special Meals.

To request a Special Meal, the Special Meal Request Form must be completed and submitted to the Office of the President for approval. The request should provide the following information:
  1. Name and title of the person requesting the Special Meal
  2. Anticipated date of the Special Meal
  3. Estimated cost of the Special Meal
  4. Explanation as to why the Special Meal is in the best interest of the State of Louisiana

After the Special Meal has been provided, and to receive reimbursement, the lower portion of the form must be completed and submitted to Administrative Accounting. The form must include the following information:
  1. Actual cost of the Special Meal
  2. Actual number of participants who received the Special Meal

An original invoice/receipt supporting the purchase and a roster of participants and their titles must be attached.

A purchase requisition should be input into Banner when the form is submitted to Administrative Accounting. The purchase requisition number should be indicated as required by the form.

Administrative Accounting will submit completed forms to the President's Office for reporting purposes. All special meals will be reported by the President to the University of Louisiana System on a semi-annual basis.
Conference Meals
State of Louisiana Travel Regulations, PPM 49, Section S1510, contain provisions that recognize and regulate University Hosted Conference Meals.  These regulations require adherence to the Procurement Laws, attendee sheets, certain advance approvals, and set maximum meal cost amounts. Please refer to PPM 49, Section S1510 or contact the MSU Purchasing Office for more detailed information.
Other Permissible Meals
There may be instances where a meal or refreshment could meet a public purpose but cannot be classified as a Special Meal or as a Conference Meal as defined by PPM 49, Sections S1509 and S1510, respectively.  In such cases, some judgment may be required to determine whether a meal or other refreshments would comply with Article 7, Section 14 (A) of the Louisiana Constitution, which prohibits gratuitous donation of public resources.  Other Permissible Meals should be infrequent in occurrence and be seen as a necessity for achieving a goal that contributes to the mission of the University.  Answers to the following three questions will serve to test whether a meal is legally permissible:
  1. Does the meal serve a public university purpose and does that purpose further the mission of the University?  If so, explain how the meal serves a public purpose.
  2. As a whole, is the meal reasonable in the circumstances and not gratuitous?  If so, explain why the meal is considered reasonable and non-gratuitous.
  3. By providing the meal, will the Institution receive value in excess of the cost of the meal? If so, explain how the Institution will receive excess value. 
This test is intended to assess a legal standard established by the “Cabela’s case.”  To be permissible, answers to the above questions must all be yes.  In addition, a strong rationale must be presented, which could potentially convince an objective third party.  If a rationale is not convincing, McNeese Foundation funds should be considered. PPM 49 rates should be used as a guideline when assessing cost reasonableness.  Other Permissible Meals are subject to review by MSU Internal Audit and by the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
Before providing an Other Permissible Meal, the Other Permissible Meal Request and Reimbursement Form must be completed and approved in advance by the department head and the University President.  A participant attendance sign-in sheet is required.  Petty cash funds may not be used as a source for reimbursement for Other Permissible Meals.

This policy is distributed via the Academic Advisory Council, the Administrative Advisory Council, the University Listserv, University’s web site, and through routine communication between departments.

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