The imperfect tense is used because it refers to a longer lasting state as kind of a background description. Another example:
In the first example the description is about a longer lasting state and describes sets the scene for maybe a further statement whatever might have happened then. In the second example it is about getting hungry and then returning, i.e., two occurences which both describe what HAPPENED (i.e., an action) and not what WAS (i.e., a state of being). I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).
To complete Chris' excellent answer, here are links to our lessons on how to use L'Imparfait :
Bonne journée !
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