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 a Room

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). It is important to book your event well in advance to guarantee availability of your room and Dining Services.

Arrangements for tables, table setups, public address systems and other audio or video requests are handled by the Office of Conferences and Special Events.

Placing an Order

After you have a confirmed room reservation, you may order food for your function from the Dining Services office (717-245-1318). We require at least 10 days advance notice, but would prefer a longer notice to accommodate you and provide the best service possible. When contacting Dining Services, the following information is required:

  • The day, date, and time of your event
  • Contact name, organization, department, phone number, method of payment (cash, internal requisition or billing address if applicable)
  • Location - the room you reserved with the Conferences and Special Events Office.
  • Room Set-Up including the amount of tables requiring linen
  • Rain location - if applicable
  • Type of function and service style (breakfast, lunch, dinner, buffet or waiter served, etc.)
  • Estimated number of guests - to be confirmed by email or in writing 48 hours before event
  • Menu - including special dietary requirements such as vegan or allergies
  • Bar requirements - 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 each hour.
  • Special Arrangements - flowers, china service, linens, etc.

Flowers & Decorations

Upon request, Catering Services will order centerpieces or floral arrangements and bill you accordingly. Additional room decorations are the responsibility of the sponsor. The use of confetti is not permitted.

Use of Alcohol

Dining Services does not purchase or supply alcoholic beverages for any catered function. This is the responsibility of the sponsoring organization.

The College alcohol policy is thoroughly explained in the Dickinson College Student Handbook.  All alcohol must be registered with the Dean of Students Office. This policy is in effect for all functions which alcohol will be served. A TIPS trained bartender is mandatory at any function serving alcohol. The sponsoring group is responsible for delivering all alcoholic products to be served to Dining Services prior to the event. Catering Services personnel will determine the required number of TIPS servers and time necessary for bar setup and breakdown.

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

All cancellations must be made at least two business days prior to the scheduled event. This will nullify any charges for food orders and labor commitments. Failure to follow cancellation guidelines will subject the individual to charges already incurred.

Any change in detail concerning your event must be submitted to Dining Services as soon as possible to establish if the change can be accommodated.

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
  • Dining Services china handling charge for functions outside the HUB including Stern Center functions/per person $2.50
  • Hard plastic dinnerware charge/per person $1.50
  • TIPS trained bartender/per hour $12.50
  • Floral decorations ordered by Dining Services
  • Clean up beyond normal event requirements
  • Special requests that require additional labor
  • Retrieval of items originally picked up by customer, to include linens, beverage dispensers, leftover food, etc.
  • Loss of Dining Services' equipment while in the custody of the customer to include all coffee service items, beverage dispensers, utensils, etc.


Catering Services occasionally is available to serve wedding receptions on campus with the approval of both the Director of Conferences and Special Events and the Director of Dining Services. Contact the Conference Office (717-245-1900) to make a room reservation prior to placing your food order.  A service charge will be added to the cost of your wedding.  A deposit of 50% of the estimated cost of the Dining Service charge is due 30 days prior to the wedding.

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

  • Cake cutting $75.00
  • China rental
  • TIPS trained bartender/each per hour $12.50
  • Bar set-ups/per person - (includes mixers and nonalcoholic beverages) $2.00
  • Additional setups - vary

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

Additional information may be obtained by calling Dining Services
at 717-245-1318.