We are a Veterans Group that plans the Veterans Day Parade each year. On the night of our lineup meeting we buy food for the committee of six people. On the day of the parade we pay for lunch for up to 15 volunteers who help with the parade. Is this in line with our 501 (c)(3) status?
If your purpose is, at least in part, to plan and administer a public Veterans Day Parade each year, I see no reason why the provision of incidental meals for your planning committee and other volunteers who help administer the parade would jeopardize your tax-exempt status. Incidental benefits like this are part of the cost of running the event and would not be considered compensation or private benefit of any sort.
I wonder, however, whether your group is a charity recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code or is “an organization of past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces” (or an auxiliary unit or foundation for such an organization) which is recognized as exempt under section 501(c)(19) of the Code. An exempt veterans organization, like a charity, may not permit any part of its net earnings to inure to the private benefit of any individual.
While we tend to think of charities as the only type of organization to which tax-deductible charitable contributions may be given, the Tax Code also clearly allows deductible contributions for veterans groups recognized under 501(c)(19). In either case, the rules for permitted expenditures would be essentially the same.