In an effort to comply with the State of New York, CUNY has issued new policy information regarding the use of tax levy and IFR funds to pay for meals and light refreshments.


  • Food is an exception, not a normal business practice.
  • All food requests must be pre-approved by the Office of Purchasing. A requisition must be submitted and a purchase order must be dispatched prior to ordering food. 
  • Amount-only requisitions are no longer allowable for food. Each event must be indicated on a separate requisition with the appropriate description of the event.
  • All requests for reimbursement and/or payments must include: written documentation of the relationship to CUNY business, meeting agenda, and organizer’s signed list of attendees or an attendance list with the signature of each attendee.
  • Requisitions for faculty candidate lunches should be submitted prior to the candidate lunch.
  • Food may never be served at meetings that are fewer than two hours in length. The serving of food at meetings exceeding two hours in length must be pre-approved by the Office of Purchasing.
  • The following are examples of unallowable costs and should never be paid from Tax Levy or IFR funds:
    • Social events, such as office parties, birthdays, retirements, and graduations 
    • Student or employee recognition and award events
    • Class meetings, senior thesis colloquiums, finals week study groups, and tutoring sessions
  • Alcoholic beverages or related costs can never be paid for or reimbursed by Tax Levy or IFR funds.
  • Meals solely for CUNY employees while not in Travel status must not be paid from Tax Levy or IFR funds under any circumstance.   

Per Person Limits

  • Payments for expenses above the limits (see below) cannot be paid from Tax Levy or IFR funds. The organizer will be responsible for obtaining the balance from another funding source.  
  • Costs are based on attendees, not invitees. RSVP is required and confirmation of attendees prior to the event is a must.
  • Light refreshments are not to exceed $8 per person (this includes tips, incidentals, and delivery charges). Light refreshments consist of light fare (e.g., fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc.) and beverages (e.g., soft drinks, water, coffee) or similar fare that is typically served at breakfast or snack.
  • Modest meals are not to exceed $15 per person (this includes tips, incidentals, and delivery charges). These are usually ordered during customary meal hours (e.g., at lunch) and typically include items such as sandwiches, salads, or similar fare and beverages (e.g., soft drinks, water, coffee).

Any changes or updates to this policy will be communicated as they are received from CUNY.

If there are any questions, contact the Office of Purchasing and Contracting at extension 5133.

How to Order

  1. Run a budget query to ensure there are sufficient funds for the purchase. For assistance running budget queries, refer to the How to Run the OTPS Budget Overview Query guide.
  2. Contact Maureen Smith in the Office of Purchasing and Contracting to determine if Tax Levy funds may be used to purchase catering services or light refreshments for the event.
  3. Create a requisition in CUNYfirst. For assistance creating requisitions, refer to the How to Create a Purchase Requisition guide. Be sure the following documents have been attached to the requisition:
    1. a quote from the vendor
    2. an event program, flyer or agenda
    3. RSVP or attendance list
  4. Department supervisor and approver approve the requisition. For assistance approving requisitions, refer to the How to Approve a Purchase Requisition guide.

When You Receive Your Order

  1. Create a receipt in CUNYfirst. For assistance creating receipts, refer to the How to Create a Receipt guide.
    1. Sign off on the vendor’s invoice with a receipt date, authorized signature and “OK to pay.”
    2. Scan and attach the vendor’s invoice, flyer, or agenda, sign-in sheet/RSVP/attendance list, and a letter of justification to the receipt in CUNYfirst.
  2. Submit the original documentation from Step 1 and a copy of the CUNYfirst receipt confirmation page to the Office of Accounts Payable.    

If There Is a Problem With Your Order

Contact the vendor.

If You Need to Change an Order

Change orders are only done once a requisition has been turned into a Purchase Order. To change the price or quantity on a requisition that has not yet become a Purchase Order, edit the requisition using the Manage Requisitions screen in CUNYfirst.

For change orders on food-related Purchase Orders, contact Maureen Smith.


Maureen Smith

David Gretah (Requisitons)

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