Local Meals

Guideline Date: April 2015     Revision: 1     Last Review: August 2017

Why are local meals and meals without associated travel normally treated as indirect costs?

Without associated travel, meals would normally be an individual's personal responsibility.

Please refer to University travel policies for more information. Domestic and foreign travel charged to a sponsored project should follow the guidelines set forth in University travel policies unless the funding agency imposes greater restrictions.  

When may local meals and meals without associated travel be treated as direct costs?

Local business meals may be directly charged to an award if they are linked to a formal meeting or conference at which technical information directly related to the award is being shared or disseminated (see Uniform Guidance § 200.430 (h) (1) (i) Compensation-personal services).

Please refer to the award's terms and conditions for any specific treatment of costs.

Examples of food charges that may be allowed as a direct cost:

  • Lunch and refreshments are provided for a periodic all-day meeting of collaborators on a program project where technical information closely related to that project is being shared. There is a formal agenda and documented attendee list. Meeting participants are from different locations.
  • A researcher is being recruited to fill an open position on a research grant and travels to the University. The researcher's meal may be charged to the grant since he/she is on travel status.
  • The PI is responsible for maintaining documentation for six years after the end date of the project.

If you plan to charge a meal to a sponsored project as a direct cost:

  • Follow the University host expenses policy.
  • Document the purpose of the meeting and why food is necessary.
  • Retain a copy of the formal agenda and a formal list of external and internal attendees. 
  • If you know that the meeting will be scheduled in advance, include the expense in the proposal budget with a justification.