Delivery app Favor leaves out South Dallas; promises to add service

Favor delivery map for Dallas, June 2017.
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DALLAS -- On most week days (and some weekends), you'll find Benjamin Vann and Shawn Scott working on the launch of their co-venture, Impact House, in South Dallas.

Vann calls it a social innovation hub and co-working space with a laser focus on the myriad of socioeconomic challenges in the southern sector.

Scott, also a co-founder of South Dallas non-profit Hack My Future, says the list of needs is long and well-known.

"We need grocery stores, we need food delivery services, we need banks," Scott said of the area south of Interstate 30. "We need everything.”

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And while working Friday night on possible solutions, Vann got hungry.

"I literally just wanted some Popeyes," Vann said. "First I tried Uber Eats, but they didn't have it. Then my friends online suggested I try Favor."

The Austin-based app allows users to order just about anything from shops and restaurants and have a courier deliver it to them.

So Vann downloaded the app, but when he opened Favor he noticed a problem.

"It says Favor isn’t available in your area of Dallas just yet," Vann said.   

Then he looked at the delivery map, which uses Interstate 30 as the cutoff for delivery, leaving out underserved communities in the southern half of the city.

“it just triggered a huge 'whoa,' like this needs to be looked at," Vann said.

That's when Scott, a self- admitted "tech geek" and early Twitter adopter, jumped online and tweeted his question to Favor on Sunday.

His tweet quickly picked up traction, and a few hours later Favor CEO Jag Bath tweeted back, "we continue to expand our zone in Dallas as we grow. Stay tuned."

"There shouldn’t be a reason on why they don’t want to come to this area – they’re the provider for something there’s a need for when there’s a food desert,” Vann said.

The USDA defines a food desert as any area with a lack of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other whole foods found in impoverished communities.

Favor tweeted at Scott as well saying in large part, expansion of service is based on app downloads.

“Data does not tell the full story of Dallas,” Scott said.

Favor is far from the first startup to only offer delivery services to areas of town already flush with easily accessible options.

Amazon added same-day delivery service in May 2016 for Southern Dallas, only after a report by Bloomberg was published on perceived digital red-lining -- a claim the online retail giant denied.

On Monday, Favor told WFAA in a statement it was aware of concerns about denying services to historically underserved communities.

"Our goal is to service all Texans with Favor. This absolutely includes historically underserved communities in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and other cities in the future," the company said.

Favor did not provide a timeline for increased service area.

Scott says the engagement on Twitter led another delivery company, "MenuRunners," that serves smaller markets in Texas, to reach out and begin work to service areas south of Interstate 30.