For University purposes we have classified outside vendors offering food solutions as “caterer” and “non-caterer.” This document is designed to help you understand the difference between catered and non-catered events when using outside vendors.  Units should refer to and follow OBFS policies related to the appropriate use of the T-card and appropriate use of University funds.

What is a caterer? 

An outside vendor that serves food, beverages, and/or liquor at an event primarily attended by or open to the general public is considered a “caterer” for University purposes.  Besides providing food, beverages, and/or liquor the vendor would typically provide set-up (including use of caterer-provided equipment), food service, onsite preparation, and clean-up.  Caterers are required to comply with University policy including having proper certifications, licenses, and insurance.  They are also required to be on the University’s “insured caterers' list.”

Examples of catered events

  • Social events
  • Official receptions
  • Development events
  • Alumni receptions

Purchase orders are required when any of the following apply:

  • The vendor provides on-site labor, for example, sets up equipment, preps food, or cleans up.
  • The vendor serves food, beverages, and/or alcohol.
  • The event is primarily attended by the general public.
  • A contract or deposit is required.

Note: Purchase orders must be processed and approved before the date of the event.

Minimum Insurance Requirements for outside vendors providing catering services:

  • Each insurance carrier must have an A.M. Best rating of B+ or better and a financial rating of VI or better for Commercial General Liability, Auto Liability, and Workers’ Compensation, including Employer’s Liability.

Type of Insurance

Minimum coverage

Commercial General Liability

$1,000,000 per occurrence

$2,000,000 aggregate

Auto Liability


Liquor Liability (if applicable)

$1,000,000 per occurrence

Workers’ Compensation


and Employer’s Liability (Not required of sole proprietors)





  • "The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois" must be added as an "additional insured" on the Caterer's commercial general liability policy and shall apply in proportion to and to the extent of the negligent acts or omissions of the non-University party or any person or persons under the non-University parties' direct supervision and control.
  • In addition, the caterer must be in compliance with all public health permits and/or liquor licenses, and catering staff must have completed TIPS/BASSET training.  The University may request a copy of any health permit and/or liquor license.
  • Refer to OBFS Policies and Procedures Section 6 - Insurance for a complete listing of insurance requirements.

What is a non-caterer?

A “non-catered” event would typically consist of food and/or beverage drop-off.  The delivery person would not set up, serve, or prepare anything on-site.  Vendors delivering food items for non-catered events are not required to be on the insured caterers' list.

Examples of non-catered events

  • Lunch or snacks delivered by a vendor for:
    • An employee-only half-day or full-day training, planning meeting, or University reception
    • Working lunches that may include both University employees and UI business partners
    • An entertainer performing at a UI venue
    • A unit hosting a student roundtable
  • Food items bought from a grocery store for a specific event and for immediate consumption
  • Food items delivered and purchased with personal funds

Note: For events primarily attended by the general public, or business meeting or receptions, if the vendor provides on-site services, and/or a contract or deposit is required the event is classified as a “catered event” and a Purchase Order is required.

You may use a T-Card for University non-catered events that do not require a contract. Refer to the OBFS Policies and Procedures, Section 8 for limits and requirements.