Food Reimbursement FAQ

Updated: December 14, 2017

What if November 1, 2017 falls in the middle of an existing trip?

The meal/snack reimbursement clarification is effective November 1, 2017 and is applicable to trips starting on or after November 1, 2017.

What if the employee chooses to purchase food at a grocery store rather than eating out?

Purchase of grocery food qualifies for reimbursement. Grocery items eligible for reimbursement include all food (including seasonings) for meal preparation. The traveler is expected to keep the quantities and costs reasonable.

It is acceptable to purchase groceries that the traveler intends to eat for multiple meals. 

Grocery purchases should be counted toward the number of qualifying reimbursable meals.  For example, if the traveler qualifies for reimbursement of three meals and grocery items provide food for two meals, then only one receipt should be submitted for meals in addition to the grocery receipt. 

The traveler should make every attempt to purchase all grocery items at one location. If buying groceries in one location cannot be accomplished, or if on a later date single items need to be purchased to replace depleted items, it is acceptable to submit more than one receipt for the additional groceries purchased.

If a traveler purchases groceries for him/herself and traveling companions, how should travel reimbursement be requested?

The traveler claiming groceries should list all other travelers and their UNL affiliation on the reimbursement request. No other traveler may claim reimbursement for meals for which groceries were purchased. It is up to the department to cross reference the travelers' expense vouchers to make sure that additional meals are not being claimed.

What does "UNL affiliation" mean?

It means clarifying the UNL status of the traveler, e.g., are they faculty, undergrad/grad student, fellow or a non-UNL person.

Can the traveler purchase part of a meal at one venue and the rest of the meal at another venue?

Yes, however those two receipts will be considered as two meal receipts. Remember, only up to three receipts are allowed to be reimbursed. For example, the traveler buys a hamburger at one venue and a drink at another venue at the airport. The traveler then proceeds to have two more meals for the day and claims four receipts. Only the three largest receipts will be reimbursed.

What does "a meal provided by a lodging facility" mean?

It means any complimentary food provided by the lodging facility as a part of the traveler's stay.

Do free appetizers and hors d'oeuvres count as a meal?

No. 

Does a "continental breakfast" count as a meal?

Yes.

If the lodging facility offers a "continental breakfast" does that preclude breakfast reimbursement?

Yes, a continental breakfast available at the lodging facility would disqualify a reimbursement for a meal from another venue. Reimbursement may be allowed if the traveler provides documentation that the purchased meal was for a business purpose or attaches a physician's note citing dietary restrictions.

Are there exceptions to the "3 meal per day reimbursement" policy?

The policy states that up to three meals per day are reimbursable. However, reimbursement may be allowed if a traveler has a dietary restriction that requires more than three meals per day. The traveler must submit a physician's note specifying that need.

Are there exceptions to the "facility provided meal" policy?

The policy states that if meals are provided by a lodging facility or as part of a conference/official function/event, no reimbursement will be made for those meals. However, reimbursement may be allowed if:

  1. The traveler has a dietary restriction that requires an alternative meal. The traveler must submit a physician's note specifying that need.
  2. The traveler provides documentation that the purchased meal was for a business purpose.

If a traveler has dietary restrictions, does a doctor's note need to be submitted each time?

Yes, a copy of a physician's note will need to accompany each travel reimbursement submission.

Will this comply with HIPAA privacy regulations?

Yes, because the employee is voluntarily providing this information regarding dietary restrictions. The University is not requesting a diagnosis.

What if the hotel offers a breakfast but I have a business meeting with a collaborator over breakfast -- can I get reimbursed for that breakfast?

Yes. The business reason and a list of attendees and their UNL affiliation must be attached to the reimbursement request.

Where can additional questions be directed?

Please email travel@unl.edu with questions about the food reimbursement policy. This email has been tested, is working, and is being monitored.