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Travel Policies: Meals

Paying for meals while traveling

Read Calvin's recently updated meal policy.

Necessary, reasonable, and properly documented meal expenses are reimbursable. The cost of college business meals is reimbursable. However, meals should occur in surroundings conducive to college business discussions and for the primary purpose of fostering college relations. The meals must not be for personal or social purposes, nor merely reciprocal. A college business meal may occur in the home of a faculty or staff member provided it serves a specific college business purpose.

  • The per diem limit for meal expenses is $31.00. If a person exceeds this amount, you may be required to show why this level of spending was justified or part of the expense may be considered personal. Please check the per diem rates in other cities and countries by accessing this information at the beginning of the Travel Website.
  • Meals are paid by the college only if they are “directly related” or “associated” with the active conduct of college business and must be shown as such on the Expense Report. “Directly related” refers to meals when the principal purpose is the promotion of Calvin College and/or fostering positive college relations. “Associated” refers to a meal to develop goodwill or foster college business discussion and is only deductible if it precedes or follows a substantial and bona fide college business discussion and if they occur on the same day.
  • Receipts are required for all meal expenses.
  • IRS Reporting Requirements: The Internal Revenue Code requires specific details for business meal expenses. These details must be provided with the Expense Report in order to obtain reimbursement.
    • Amount
    • Date
    • People, Place and Purpose


The college recommends a 15% gratuity for groups of 1-5 and 18% for groups of 6 or more. Gratuity amounts beyond the recommended 18%, regardless of reason, are the responsibility of the individual diner/traveler.