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The cost of meals is allowable on sponsored awards as part of the approved award travel expenses, for subjects and patients under study, and as part of subsistence allowance within the NSF participant support costs.

Meals of Tufts employees who are not on travel status are usually not allowable unless specifically approved as part of the project activity. The cost of meals provided during internal staff meetings, including recurrent business meetings with staff, are not allowed. Refer to the award agreement for additional specific terms that may apply.

If a meal expense is incurred but was deemed unallowable, the responsibility for the cost will remain with the individual who incurred the expense unless the individual’s unit agrees to cover the cost from non-sponsored funds.

General Considerations

Meal expenses must be allowable, allocable and reasonable in accordance with the  2 CFR Part 200 (Uniform Guidance), the Internal Revenue Service and other government regulations, as well as the sponsored award terms and conditions and the sponsor-specific policies applicable to the award.Meal costs must meet a test of reasonableness and must not be greater than the per diem rate for the meeting’s location. Please see the following link for per diem rates.Meal expenses incurred during travel are handed according to Tufts travel policy.

Cost of Meals during a Conference

Sponsored awards funds may only be used to cover the cost of meals incured during a meeting or conference if all of the following applies:

  1. The objective of the meeting specifically benefits the project AND
  2. The cost of the meals was specifically approved as part of the budget AND
  3. The sponsor does not specifically disallow such costs AND
  4. The meeting includes significant participation of non-Tufts collaborators AND
  5. The meal is served to maintain the continuity of the meeting.

The cost of meals served at a meeting or conference for which the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information is not allowable on sponsored awards where the primary purpose of the award is to support a conference or a meeting.

Meal Reimbursement

All meal reimbursement requests must include the following supporting documentation:

  1. Meeting agenda, including date and location
  2. Attendee roster to include company or institution and business relationship to project
  3. Written justification documenting the business purpose for incurring the expense and how business conducted furthers the goal of the project
  4. Principal Investigator written approval.

Links and Resources

Tufts travel policy

2 CFR Part 200 (Uniform Guidance)

GSA Per Diem Rates

NSF Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide Chapter X – Allowability of Costs

NSF participant support costs

NIH Grants Policy Statement: Allowability of Costs/Activities: Meals.