Administrative Policies

AD26 Sale and Serving of Food and Beverages at University Locations

Policy Status: 

Under Review

Subject Matter Expert: 

Vincent Raco, 814-863-6676,

Policy Steward: 

Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff



The purpose of this policy is to outline the responsibilities of the University in providing and approving food and beverage services, as well as recognize the contractual responsibilities and limitations of the University for the provision of beverages, herein described as "Regulated Beverages" (as defined below) and vended products on University owned and leased property. The intent of the policy is to avoid direct conflicts with ongoing auxiliary enterprise operations or with related interests of the University, or with the contractual arrangements the University has entered into with commercial companies for the provision of Regulated Beverages and vended products; and at the same time fulfill the food and beverage requirements of University departments, student organizations, faculty, staff, students and guests.


“Regulated Beverage” or “Regulated Beverages” means all carbonated and non-carbonated, non-alcoholic drinks, however dispensed, including but not limited to: i) colas and other flavored carbonated drinks: ii) fruit juice, fruit juice containing and fruit flavored drinks; iii) ready-to-drink chilled coffee drinks; iv) chilled tea products; v) hypertonic, isotonic and hypotonic drinks (sport drinks and fluid replacements); vi) energy drinks, vii) packaged carbonated or still water (including spring, mineral or purified); viii) liquid concentrate teas (“LCT”); ix) frozen carbonated and non-carbonated beverages (“FB”); and x) any future categories of nonalcoholic beverage products that may be distributed by Pepsi.


An ongoing concern of the University regarding the sale of food is the potential risk arising from the improper handling of food products. Sanitation, prevention of pest infestation, garbage removal, equipment requirements and proper cleanup after an event are problems associated with the preparation and serving of food and are best dealt with by University food service departments or commercial companies with the appropriate skills and expertise. If such preparation and serving of food is not done by University food service departments, the University will require adequate insurance from the contracted provider. The Risk Management Office has established insurance standards and is to be contacted in advance of the function so they may determine if the contracted provider meets all requirements. Risk Management is located in 103 Rider Building, 814-865-6307 (FAX: 814-865-4029).

NOTE: Risk Management maintains a current listing of all accepted external food and beverage providers that might provide services to the University at any location. That list is available HERE.

All contracts with external food and beverage providers are subject to Policy FN11, Contracts and Leases.


At University Park, the sale or service of food and/or beverages at any function or program open to the public and/or community by other than authorized University departments such as Housing and Food Services, Penn State Hospitality Services,University Creamery, or by an accepted external food and beverage provider contracting for food and beverage services, is prohibited.

At Commonwealth campus locations where the University operates a food service program, the University's Food Services has the right of first refusal to sell and/or serve food and beverage services in all University owned and leased property, unless a specific exception is approved, as covered under the "Exceptions" section of this policy.

When food and beverage services are provided by an accepted external food and beverage provider on University owned and leased property, such provider must comply with the contractual terms of agreements noted below. The sponsoring organization or group will reimburse the University for identifiable increments to theUniversity's operating or overhead expenses incurred by the use of the facility.

All food and snacks served and/or sold by recognized student organizations, otherUniversity organizations or offices, and residence hall house governments onUniversity property are prohibited, as are food and beverage sales by individual members and clubs of the University community and by faculty, staff and students unless a specific exception is approved, as covered under the "Exceptions" section of this policy.

NOTE: This policy does not restrict an individual from placing an order for food and beverages with a commercial food vendor for delivery to their office or on-campus residence. This policy does not restrict an individual from purchasing beverage products from local off-campus outlets and bringing the product to campus for individual use. If resales occur, any funds collected cannot exceed the purchase cost.


The University has entered into an agreement with Pepsi for specific beverage products, however dispensed. The terms of the agreement are for a 10-year period beginning July 01, 2012 through June 30, 2022. A contract year is a consecutive 12-month period beginning July 01, 2012. The Pepsi Agreement covers all University locations, except The Pennsylvania College of Technology. A number of the campuses have contracts of various lengths for vended products and/or snack bar operations. This agreement does not alter those contracts. However, upon renewal, changes identified below must be incorporated into the agreement.

Due to the agreement between the University and the contracted vendor, any employee representing the University in an official capacity while on-campus (e.g., interviews, open meetings, etc.) should refrain from using beverage products that are in competition with the contracted vendor.


The University agrees during the term of the Agreement to purchase its total requirements of Regulated Beverages from the contracted vendor.

The University is prohibited from selling products that are competitive to the contracted vendor.

University locations that have contracts with private companies for snack bar operations, foodservice operations and/or vending are mandated to include in future contracts a requirement that all Regulated Beverage products be purchased from the University's contracted vendor.


At University Park, all vending machine services are provided by a contracted agency, as administered by Housing and Food Services. No University department or individual shall enter into any agreement with any company or organization for the provision of vending machine services.

At Commonwealth Campus locations, food and beverage vending machine services are provided by a vending company under contract to the University. Where there is a Housing and Food Service program, Housing and Food Services has the responsibility for contracting for campus vending services. At other locations, the Associate Vice President for Finance and Business has the responsibility for contracting these services.

All vending commission income (including income from candy, gum, and hot and cold beverage machines) is to be deposited into specified accounts under the jurisdiction of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business.


The University agrees to cooperate in marketing programs/activities which the contracted vendor creates and funds which promote the sale of contracted vendor products at University locations throughout Pennsylvania. Each individual marketing program/activity must be mutually agreed to by the University and the contracted vendor.

The contracted vendor shall be the exclusive beverage sponsor at all the University's athletic events.


"Food Sampling" is the free distribution of a food product for the purpose of promoting that product.

Sampling may be permitted in University hotels and conference center, student unions, residence hall commons buildings, the Mateer Building, and sports venues subject to the following conditions:

  1. No alcohol or tobacco products will be permitted.
  2. Food items must be pre-packed, or if prepared on-site must be supervised by a qualified food service professional. State and local health codes must be followed.
  3. Approval to conduct food sampling activities at all specified University facilities must be obtained in advance of the event. Requests for approval shall be submitted to the University administrator responsible for the operations of the specific facility. The administrator may set restrictions on the sampling activity, such as time, place and manner of presentation.
  4. Conflicts with existing agreements or ongoing operations of the University may result in approval being denied.
  5. The vendor or company providing the sampled products will be responsible for all cleanup costs associated with the sampling activity in the facility and/or the surrounding area as determined by the facility administrator. An advance deposit may be required.


Group meals or meetings held at private residences are not covered by University insurance, with the exception of Deans, Chancellors, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts and other specifically designated senior executives. The use of a caterer is not required for events at an employee's home.  The employee should be aware that their personal homeowner's policy would be the primary liability insurance coverage for these events, given that the host held the event at their home and was responsible for controlling the circumstances of the event. However, if a caterer is used, the caterer must be from the List of Caterers maintained by Risk Management, having adequate insurance coverage.


In University facilities and/or at University locations where University food services has the right of first refusal to provide catered food and beverages, the Director of Housing and Food Services (or their designee) can authorize an exception in advance of the event if University Food Services does not have the culinary arts expertise required for the successful execution of the event. In University facilities and/or at University locations where a non-University owned or managed food service operates, the Director of Business Services (or their designee) can authorize exceptions.

Recognized student organizations, other University organizations or offices (if used as a fund raiser for The United Way), and residence hall house governments may be granted an exception if the food sales provide a service that is not provided by Housing and FoodServices or by an authorized agent currently under contract to provide these services. Recognized student organizations granted permission to sell food and/or beverages for a specific activity may use the funds in excess of the cost for the benefit of the student organization.

Because of the ongoing concern regarding the safe and proper handling of food products, food sales by recognized student organizations will be limited to products: 1) prepared by a external food and beverage provider or University food service, 2) are not required to be temperature controlled, and 3) that are prepackaged for resale.

For recognized student organizations, requests for exceptions to the above policy requirements at University Park are submitted to the UniversityPark Housing and Food Services Office through the Office of Union and StudentActivities. Requests for exception from other University locations are submitted to the respective campus/college Housing and Food Service Office through the Office of Student Programs and Services. (At locations with noHousing and Food Services Operations, the request is submitted directly to theDirector of Business Services.) After the application is reviewed with the respective offices as appropriate, actions relative to the request will be issued in writing from the Housing and Food Services Office (or the Office of Student Programs and Services, as appropriate).


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Risk Management Office.

Most Recent Changes:

  • January 13, 2014 - Editorial changes. An EVENTS AT PERSONAL RESIDENCES section was added to the policy to clarify coverage parameters, as this policy is intended to apply to caterers providing services to University-sponsored events regardless of where the event takes place, meaning events held off University campuses as well as on campus. Also, policy steward information has been added, to provide guidance in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 19, 2013 - Changes made throughout the policy to reflect the continuance of the University's agreement with Pepsi. A DEFINITIONS section has been added to clarify terminology applicable to the agreement. Verbiage revised throughout the policy to clarify details pertinent to the current agreement.
  • March 14, 2011 - Multiple revisions made to all sections of the policy, to reflect current operations and agreements.
  • August 16, 2007 - Revised 1st paragraph of "Terms Of Agreement" to reflect changes since the original agreement.
  • June 14, 2006 - Revision History added.
  • September 12, 1997 - Updated the Penn Stater references.
  • January 10, 1996 - Position Title updates. Revised "Food Sampling" section.
  • July 25, 1994 - Department Title changes.
  • September 15, 1992 - "Terms of Agreements" section added, per new contracts with Pepsi (soft drinks) are CRH Catering (vending machines).


Date Approved: 

June 19, 2013

Date Published: 

June 19, 2013

Effective Date: 

June 19, 2013