Fridge problems a reminder to be grateful

Even after a month, I still find myself thinking a lot about the SNAP Hunger Challenge.

It comes to mind when I make time to cook and plan meals, when I write food stories for the newspaper and when I blog.

For me, it's fun to share (and sometimes develop) recipes, and of course, I love to eat. Other people enjoy it, too – they've started sending me their favorites and critiquing things I've posted.

I love the sense of community that comes with food. (And of course, I've got nothing on local food bloggers like Jason Brechin, Scott Koeneman and Lisa Morgan.)

But beneath the excitement of sharing a tasty, useful recipe or writing about someone who has a unique take on food, I sometimes forget that eating addresses a basic need.

I was reminded yesterday, when the red refrigerator (the one I spent so much energy on) quit cooling. At that moment, it didn't matter what color the fridge was, or how it looked in my kitchen. It wasn't working.

It was a stressful morning. I spent a chunk of time calling about warranty information and trying to track down a repair company that could come that day. I had to throw away some food, and schlepped what I could save to a family member's refrigerator nearby.

I think part of my reaction was pure instinct – as a human, I need food to survive. Without a fridge, satisfying that need is tough.

A repair person is supposed to come this morning, and I'm hoping it can be fixed.

Because it's so new, the fridge is covered under the manufacturer's warranty. I also bought the extended warranty, which will cover the cost of the food I lost. My freezer was stocked, so I'm guessing this will come close to actually paying for the warranty I bought. Important lesson there, to be sure.

But I can't help but think about the people who can't afford a brand new fridge, or couldn't justify the extra expense of a warranty.

I remember, during the SNAP Hunger Challenge, wondering how people who can't pay their utility bills eat, or at least avoid fast or convenience food.

Ultimately, my fridge problem was a small hiccup in my week. As long as it can be fixed, it won't cost me anything but a little stress and worry, as well as some wasted food. (If it can't be fixed, I guess I'm going to have to settle for a white refrigerator.)

But it's an important reminder to be grateful for what I have, and to support organizations like the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, who assist those who aren't so lucky.

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