Catering Guidelines


Dining Services is periodically unavailable to fulfill orders due to other scheduled engagements and unforeseen circumstances. The department keeps an updated calendar with unavailable dates and times as a convenience to those wishing to plan events.

Reserving Space

If your event will be held on campus, it is necessary to first reserve a room with the Office of Conferences and Special Events (717-245-1900) - CASE.  It is important to book your event well in advance to guarantee availability of space and Dining Services.   Arrangements for tables, table setups and space layout, public address systems, and other audio or video requests are handled by the CASE.

Please plan for alternate space if you schedule an event in a building with an elevator or for outdoor events.  If elevator service is unavailable we are unable to provide service due to the risk to our employees. Events cancelled due to weather and not planned with a "rain location" cannot be refunded or rescheduled without additional charges.

Placing an Order

After you have a confirmed room reservation, you may order food for your function from the Dining Services office by phone at 717-245-1318 or email at  Events with service or drop-off delivery require ten (10) business days advanced ordering; pick-up orders require three (3) business days advanced ordering; customized menus or service require eight (8) weeks advanced planning to accommodate sourcing, testing, and planning.

  • Written approval for the amount of the order or an approved, specific budget
  • The day, date, start-time, and end-time of your event
  • Contact name, organization, department, phone number, and method of payment.  Payment may be cash, Dickinson internal requisition, or invoiced to an approved billing address (clients external to the College).  Events funded by Student Senate must have advanced, written approval before the event will be supported
  • Location - the space you reserved with CASE
  • Space Set-Up including the number and type/size/shape of tables requiring linen
  • Rain location if original space is outdoors – reserved through CASE
  • Type of function and service style:
    • Breakfast, lunch, or dinner
    • Reception with hors d'oeuvre – stationary or passed
    • Buffet – all-you-can-eat vs. serving(s) per person
    • Beverage station
    • Snack or breakout refreshment station
    • Waiter service
    • TIPS/bar service
    • Kids meals; kid seating needs
  • Estimated number, not a range, of guests – final count must be submitted a minimum of three (3) business days (Monday-Friday) prior to the event.  Count accuracy is important as it determines amount of food prepared and impacts your final bill.  Leftover food after an event is property of catering services and cannot be kept by the client for other uses.  If additional food is required due to a higher actual count of guests or higher than normal use then the client will be charged for the additional guest count – estimated by actual tally counts or by food portions served.
  • Menu – include special dietary needs such as vegan, gluten-free, and allergies
  • Alcohol and Bar Service – Dickinson College does not provide or sell alcoholic beverages.  You may supply your own alcoholic beverages which must be served by our TIPS trained servers at a charge of $12.50 each per hour.
  • Special arrangements – flowers, china service, and linens.

Flowers & Decorations

Room decorations and audio-visual needs are the responsibility of the sponsor. Use of confetti or similar decor is not permitted.

Alcohol at Events

For student-events, the College alcohol policy is thoroughly explained in the Dickinson College Student Handbook. A copy may be obtained from the Campus Life Office. Student-event alcohol must be registered with CASE and the Campus Life office. This policy is in effect for all functions during which alcohol will be served.

A TIPS trained bartender is mandatory at any function serving alcohol; one (1) server for every fifty (50) guests. All sponsoring groups are responsible for coordinating delivery of all alcoholic products to Dining Services prior to the event.  All event sponsors must contact the catering manager before ordering alcohol to determine the appropriate quantity needed for the event.  TIPS servers are required to stop serving guests alcohol if they deem it appropriate.

Leftover alcohol may be picked up the day following an event unless otherwise specified and must be picked up within two (2) business days after the event.  Alcohol becomes the property of Dickinson Dining Services on the third business day and will be disposed of immediately.

For further information regarding the use of alcohol, contact the Dean of Students Office (717-245-1676) or the Director of Dining Services (717-245-1318).

Catering Food On Your Own

Dining Services reserves the right of first refusal for all food served at Dickinson College. That policy has been established for the following reasons:

  • To minimize potential liability.  All providers of food services face the possibility of food and beverage-borne illnesses.  Food and beverages prepared and served by the Dickinson College Dining Services meet or exceed industry standards in shipping, receiving, storage, preparation and holding to reduce the chance of contaminated or mishandled products being served.  Limiting the preparation and serving of food and beverages to the Dickinson College Dining Services is in the best interests of both the users of these facilities and the College.
  • To keep board charges and on-campus food and beverage prices at a minimum.  Dining Services has a responsibility to establish policies that serve the interests of the student body and of the entire College community.  This policy contributes to keeping prices charged to the community low by spreading costs over as high a volume of business as possible.
  • To maintain a positive public image.  Those attending functions and activities at Dickinson College generally assume that the College provides the food and beverages served.  The quality of food and beverages provided is a major factor in projecting a positive image of Dickinson to the users of its facilities.  Dickinson College Dining Services has the personnel, experience, knowledge, facilities and equipment to offer high-quality services.
  • To cover all costs associated with food and beverage services.  Clean up and related costs are incurred each time food and beverages are served.  These costs are included in the pricing structure of food furnished by Dickinson College, but may be shifted to the College by outside caterers.  This policy places the costs of facility use on the groups or individuals sponsoring the event rather than the entire College community.
  • To insure that food not consumed at an event remains the property of Dickinson College.  Health and safety issues mandate that the College assume responsibility for and have control over unused food and beverages.

Exceptions to this policy:

  • Exceptions allowing outside caterers to serve food or beverages on campus will be made by the Director of Dining Services, the Catering Manager, and Director of CASE.  Exceptions can be requested by completing the Dickinson College: Event Food and Catering Exemption Form. The following information must be provided in writing and filed first with CASE then to the Director of Dining Services’ office before approval will be given for using an outside caterer rather than the Dickinson College Dining Services:
    • Complete form
    • Take form to CASE (Conference and Special Events) for signature confirmation that the Certificate of Provider’s Insurance is on file.
    • After the Event Food and Catering Exemption form is signed off by CASE, submit it to the Dining Service Office for decision.

Outside caterers are required to follow all laws of the State of Pennsylvania regarding food handling, preparation, serving and sanitation.  Additional requirements as necessary to protect Dickinson College may be imposed by the Director of Dining Services.  Any person or group not following these guidelines may lose the privilege of using Dickinson College facilities and may be assessed additional charges.

Changes and Cancellations

Requests for changes to an order must be submitted at least two (2) business days prior to the event.  We will try to accommodate any needs or changes that you want to make but cannot guarantee results if notice is less than specified.  Substantial increases to counts require at least three (3) business days in order for us to ensure enough product is available; again, we will gladly try to help with last-minute increases but cannot guarantee results or exact product availability.

All cancellations must be made at least two (2) business days prior to the scheduled event keep in mind this may mean up to four days for weekend events. Proper cancellation eliminates charges for food and labor.  Failure to follow cancellation guidelines may result in a bill with charges for the entire event.

Additional Charges

An 18% gratuity will be added to the cost of all non-campus functions. Additional charges that may be incurred for either on or off campus functions include:

  • Rented china – Varies
  • TIPS trained bartender/per hour – $12.50
  • Floral decorations ordered by Dining Services – Varies
  • Clean up beyond normal event requirements ($100 minimum) – $30/labor hour
  • Lost Dining Services equipment – Replacement cost


Catering Services occasionally serves wedding receptions on campus with the approval of both the Director of CASE and the Director of Dining Services. Contact CASE (717-245-1900) to make space reservations prior to placing your food order.

A service charge of $5 per person will be added to the invoice.  A deposit of 50% of the estimated quote is due 60 days prior to the event date.  Unfortunately, we cannot accept credit cards; however, payment may be made by cash or check.  External bills are sent once a month.

RSVPs with menu selections are very important.  Be sure to ask guests what they want from the menu you select and be sure to ask about kids meals and any special dietary needs including allergens, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.  If you leave it off the RSVP they won’t include the information and you may be faced with additional expenses due to last-minute adjustments.

You may incur charges over the standard banquet meal prices for the following items:

  • Cake cutting – $75.00
  • China rental – Varies
  • TIPS trained bartender/each per hour – $12.50
  • Bar set-ups/per person, includes mixers – $2.00
  • Additional setup charges – Varies
  • Unplanned meal surcharge (special diets, kids) added to contract price – $10.00

Catering services will end no later than 11 p.m.  If the wedding events is extended beyond that time will be charged $500.00/hour for each additional hour plus $250.00 for each hour of clean-up following the extension.

Catering will close the bar 30 minutes prior to the scheduled end-time.  There will not be a “last call” announcement.

Please contact Catering Services with questions concerning any of these items. Cartering Policy