Catering Policy

Catering and Entertainment Policy

Wellesley College Dining Services is not contracted to do catering or bar service. Event sponsors are responsible for organizing catering and beverages, including alcoholic beverages.  Caterers must have a Certificate of Insurance on file with the Purchasing Department in order to serve food and/or alcohol on campus.  Our buildings and grounds are not all set up to support a catered event so please review logistics with your scheduler before hiring catering or food deliveries.  

Sharing food together is an important part of our community, and should continue to be so. We also need to acknowledge how much money we are spending on food as well as the environmental costs of what we buy (plastic bottles and cans) and the food waste we generate. These challenges have led the Provost’s Budget Committee to develop a new policy regarding on-campus catering and the use of College funds to pay for off-campus meals and entertainment. This policy has been developed in close consultation with members of the administrative staff who are regularly involved in ordering food for campus events or processing reimbursements for off-campus meals. As outlined below, these new guidelines are intended both to reduce the amount we spend on food and drink, especially in the context of shorter, routine meetings, and to advance College priorities such as our sense of community and commitment to environmental sustainability. We are asking all departments to reduce their food expenditures, and have designed these guidelines to help us all achieve that goal.

Goals of the new policy: 

  1. Focus use of College funds on events that are designed to build community and reduce expenditures on routine business meetings.
  2. Contribute to the College’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
  3. Reduce food waste.
  4. Reduce food/entertainment expenditures by at least 20% (with an approximate annual saving of $350,000). 

What the new policy allows: 

  1. Wherever possible, it is preferable for committee or business meetings to be scheduled during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM). When meetings are scheduled during the lunch period, we strongly encourage departments, offices and committees to make them “brown bag” meetings. However, if meetings are scheduled outside normal business hours or are scheduled to last for an hour and thirty minutes or longer (or for the entire duration of Community Time), departments, offices and committees retain the discretion to purchase food.
  2. It’s reasonable to provide light food or refreshments at events that contribute directly to the academic or educational program of the College or that enhance a sense of community across the College (for example, between faculty and students).
  3. Faculty members may be reimbursed for entertaining students in their classes up to the approved amount (which we have increased as of Fall 2019 to $150 per semester). Administrative departments may also request reimbursement from their departmental operating budgets for entertaining student employees working in their offices or student mentees.
  4. College funds may be used to pay for food or refreshments at events recognizing service to the College or employee retirements.
  5. College funds may be used to pay for food or refreshments at departmental/divisional retreats.
  6. College funds may be used to entertain candidates at lunch or dinner and to take new employees to lunch on their first day.
  7. College funds may be used for holiday parties, subject to the approval of the division head or the president.
  8. College funds may be used for the cost of alcoholic beverages for appropriate events, subject to the approval of the division head and provided that TIPS trained staff serve the alcohol. 

What isn’t permitted under the new policy: 

  1. College funds should not be used to buy food for participants in meetings during regular business hours that are scheduled for less than an hour and thirty minutes or for less than the entire duration of Community Time.
  2. College funds should not be used to purchase single-use water bottles or cans or bottles of soda.
  3. Meals in local restaurants with only Wellesley faculty or administrative staff in attendance are not reimbursable.
  4. College funds should not be used to buy food or refreshments for personal events such as employee birthday celebrations, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries.
  5. College funds should not be used for the cost of alcoholic drinks consumed off-campus unless there is a demonstrated business purpose involving entertainment of College guests or visitors. 

Recommended price ranges: 

  • Breakfast (Continental w/ coffee), on campus $6.00 - $8.00 per person 
  • Lunch (regular meeting), on campus $8.00 - $12.00 per person 
  • Lunch meeting (e.g. individual boxed meals-when numbers are high and time is tight), on campus $12.00 - $17.00 per person 
  • Dinner (at a local restaurant) $35.00 - $60.00 per person (including alcohol) 
  • Dinner (regular committee/business meeting), on campus $12.00 - $17.00 per person 
  • Dinner (full service event, all-in cost, on campus) $50.00 -$120.00 per person 
  • Reception for business meeting or campus event (non-alcoholic beverages and hors d'oeuvres) $10.00 to $12.00 per person 

Additional notes:

  • Please lower costs whenever possible. We have given price ranges, but this is not to suggest that the goal is to hit the maximum.
  • Let’s encourage everyone to bring their own beverage (e.g. reusable water bottles) to meetings.
  • We know that precise per person costs can’t always be predicted or controlled and we recognize the possibility that events will occasionally exceed the recommended cost. Food or entertainment-related expenditures substantially or systematically above the per-person caps stated above will require senior leadership approval.


Approved by the Provost's Budget Committee, Effective October 2019