Kate Fitzgerald initiated the Food Assistance Program in the Texas Department of Agriculture under Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower with a mandate to reduce hunger while supporting a vital family-farm economy. The program's early successes included organizing SNAP (food stamp) certified farmers markets in low-income communities and designing a Farmers Market Coupon Program for WIC participants and the elderly that was a model for the now well-established national program run by the USDA. In 1993, Kate founded the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) in Austin, Texas, developing programs whose successes continue to inform intelligent, sustainable food policy at the local state and national levels. The SFC's publication of Access Denied in 1995 was one of the first studies to bring widespread attention to the crisis of food deserts in American cities and led to the formation of the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Council.
Fitzgerald has done research on effective food retailing in low-income communities and worked with a North Philadelphia coalition planning a new grocery store with support from Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative. In Washington, D.C. Kate served as Senior Policy Associate at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition representing more than 40 member groups on 2008 Farm Bill implementation, appropriations and food safety and child nutrition legislation in 2009 and 2010. In 2010 she became an independent consultant and represents organizations working on sustainable agriculture, public health, and economic development through food enterprises. Her focus is on the development of national policies that work for government, community-based groups and citizens.