Resident Organizes Day of Action for Equal Food Delivery

After Postmates Expands Delivery, Pressure Increases on DoorDash and Caviar

Screenshot from Ward 7 Resident Latoya Watson's online petition, taken April 23.

In response to local resident Latoya Watson’s petition on Spendrise calling for meal delivery companies to serve all eight wards equally, Postmates has notified Watson and Spendrise that they will now provide delivery service to east of the river neighborhoods in Ward 7 and 8.

Campaign supporters are planning a coordinated day of action on Friday, April 27th to show their appreciation for Postmates’ decision to make this change and to continue to call on DoorDash and Caviar to serve all D.C. residents equally.

Watson started her petition on April 4th and has already received support from over 650 residents and meal delivery customers who have left hundreds of comments. Roughly half of the petition signers indicated they are residents of Ward 7 or Ward 8 and another half of petition signers indicated they are current customers of Caviar, Postmates, or DoorDash.

The campaign comes with growing public awareness of the inequitable distribution of new digital services for residents east of the Anacostia River. Last week, ride-hailing app, Via, was ordered by city officials to expand its coverage area within 90 days or risk losing its license.

Articles recently published in East of the River magazine (April 2018) and in the Washington Post highlighted the unequal experiences of residents with meal delivery more broadly. Both reported that most services do not serve the largely black and low-income neighborhoods east of the river, which are also home to a quarter of the city’s population. The apps that do provide service tend to offer limited options and poor service.

In the comments linked to the petition, one new resident of the area noted that he had recently purchased a newly built home in Marshall Heights, located in Ward 7. “[I] would like to have the opportunity to buy groceries in my new neighborhood as well as to have food delivered to my home as I have had available to me in PG [Prince George] County, Maryland,” wrote the resident. “I regret that I didn’t pay attention to the disparity of resources between Ward 7 and the rest of the area until I moved here.”

“I don’t know how long-term residents of the area were able to obtain food and other basics for so many years,” he concluded.

Postmates is the first of the three identified delivery companies to fully expand service to the entire District. DoorDash responded by expanding service to parts of Ward 7, while Caviar has not responded to request for comment by neither press nor Spendrise.

On Postmates’ decision, Watson said, “This is a great step towards equal service east of the river. It happened thanks to my neighbors in Ward 7 and 8, as well as Postmates customers across the city speaking up. I’m so glad that Postmates listened to us in expanding service to the whole District. Now that we know change is possible, we will keep growing this effort to convince DoorDash and Caviar do the same.”

Postmates’ expanded DC delivery Zones, April 2018. Image: L.Watson/Spendrise
Caviar’s Delivery Zones in the District as mapped by Watson. Courtesy: L.Watson/Spendrise

Building on Postmates’ positive response and encouraging DoorDash and Caviar to follow suit, Watson is calling for a day of action on Friday, April 27th, where customers throughout the District can show their support for equal service in Ward 7 and 8 by ordering from Postmates, sending thank-you messages on social media, and demonstrating that serving Ward 7 and 8 is good for business. The day of action is being organized through a Facebook event hosted by Watson.

“This campaign [is] not just about food delivery. It’s also about showing companies what they are missing out by neglecting our communities. That’s why this ‘day of action’ is so important,” Watson says. “We can enjoy a good meal from a company that listened to its customers and show Caviar and DoorDash the business they’re missing out on. We’ll make it clear to companies: your customers care about equal service for all residents.”