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UNC Catering's Guide to Hosting Events and Meetings On Campus

UNC Catering / Sodexo is the catering provider on campus, and we are eager to work with you to support meetings and events that are held on campus. We hope you've noticed the investment we've undertaken to upgrade and enhance the dining options on campus which is based on student, faculty, and staff feedback.

We would like to provide you with some information regarding your food options when you book campus events and meetings. The Conference and Event Services team will be able to guide you through the process and answer any questions. Contact them at 970-351-2558 or Event.Services@unco.edu.

Policy updated as of 8/1/22: UNC Catering / Sodexo has the first right of refusal for all catered events on campus. If we are unable to fulfill your request, Conference and Event Services will provide you with alternatives, including an opportunity to apply for an exemption.


Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the following questions and answers to help you make your decision about submitting an exemption form.

  • What is unique about UNC Catering / Sodexo?
    • Food Cart Options
      • One of our new mini Food Carts offers “hot” items like burgers and brats, while the other has “cold” items like ice cream. These could be a wonderful addition for a parent, alumni, or special community events. Ask about their availability today.
    • Student Friendly Budget menu
      • These menu selections are designed to provide quality food and beverages at a budget price.
  • Why can't I just order from any provider of your my own choosing?
    • Food Safety
      • UNC Catering / Sodexo is licensed, all employees are trained to serve, and protocols are in place to serve food safely and appropriately.
    • UNC receives a percentage of all catering revenue on campus, so help keep UNC funds within UNC.
  • What qualifies as an exemption?
    • You may qualify for an exemption if (including, but not limited to):
      • Your event/party will have 15 people or less
      • You are requesting culturally responsive cuisine that UNC Catering cannot provide
    • TIP: When in doubt, fill out the exemption form. If your form is denied, you will be informed as to the reasons why and be given more options.
  • How do I get an exemption for my event?
    • Apply for an exemption through your Event Coordinator.
  • How much time is needed to obtain an exemption?
    • Exemptions need to be submitted at least 10-14 business days prior to your meeting/event.
      • Please speak with your Event Coordinator about how to submit an exemption form.
  • If my exemption is denied, what can I do?
    • Conference and Event Services will be able to provide you options for your meeting/event.
  • What kind of food can we bring on site?
    • The only food that would be allowed on campus would be food that is not offered by UNC Catering or foods that we are unable to produce. Examples could include:
      • i. Some culturally specific meals
      • ii. Goods/baked goods purchased at a grocery store (only allowed for small groups)
        • These items must be commercially wrapped/boxed.
          • You cannot have someone bake/prepare food themselves and then wrap it in plastic wrap.
        • In reference to other snacks, candy is fine.
        • Soda is okay as long as they are Pepsi products.
        • Chips are okay even though UNC Catering can provide those.
      • Food not purchased with UNC funds
      • Donated food
        • Possibly, but this one is hard to say yes or no to because it varies by event.
        • Exemption forms will require you to answer questions that pertain to the food safety that will be followed at each event. As mentioned previously, when in doubt, please fill out a form.
      • Potlucks
        • Yes, with an approved exemption form.
        • It also must be a closed event not open to the public.  
        • Conference and Event Services has a Potluck guideline form to check out available upon request.
      • Pizzas that are being ordered/delivered to the residence halls, academic buildings, or cultural/resource centers
        • All pizza orders should go through Empire State Pizza in the University Center.
        • UNC Catering only delivers pizza if there are other items ordered (beverages, desserts, chips, etc.) If there is catering attached to the order and you want it delivered somewhere not in the University Center, there will be a delivery charge. Please see our website to check out the different types of delivery fees.
  • If an exemption is approved, what is required to bring in outside food?
    • The food provider must be a licensed food provider.
    • Food must be transported properly.
      • Keep food wrapped tightly.
      • Transport food in containers and vehicles that do not present hazards.
    • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
      • Keep cold foods at 41 degrees or below and hot foods at 135 degrees or above.
      • Be mindful to keep bacteria from transferring from contaminated utensils, equipment, food, or other sources into/onto food that is ready to eat or other safe food contact surfaces.
    • UNC is a Pepsi campus, so all drinks need to be Pepsi products.
    • Use separate serving spoons, tongs, and/or spatulas for each food product.
    • Use a chafing dish with a lid and lit sternos to keep food hot. Check temperatures to make sure hot food is held to 135 degrees or above.
  • If an exemption is approved, do I have to wear gloves when serving food?
    • Yes. Food safety is important. Be sure to do the following:
      • Wash your hands regularly.
      • Replace your gloves if they encounter non-food items.
      • You must wear gloves when handling food that will not require any further cooking or washing before being consumed.
      • Do not smoke around the food or serving areas.
  • If an exemption is approved, how long can I keep food out to eat?
    • Properly held food cannot be left out longer than 4 hours.
      • Foods that require strict time and temperature control are considered TCS foods (Time/Temperature Control for Safety). Pathogens love TCS foods because they present an ideal environment for germs to grow and spread. Preventing TCS foods from entering the danger zone is a critical food safety practice. Bacteria grows most quickly between 70 degrees to 125 degrees.
      • Always monitor these high-risk TCS foods closely: milk and dairy products, meat and poultry, fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, shell eggs, baked potatoes, cooked rice, beans, and vegetables, tofu, soy protein, or other plant-based meat alternatives, sprouts and sprout seeds, cut tomatoes, melons, and leafy greens, and untreated garlic and oil mixtures
  • If an exemption is approved, can I serve hot dogs and hamburger straight off the grill and use the grill as my heat source?
    • Yes, you can, however, remember to keep your uncooked hot dogs and hamburgers on ice in a cooler to keep the temperature at 41 degrees or below. 

If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out the your Event Coordinator.