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Banneker soccer player commits to healthy eating at Common Good Community Garden

Reporting by Diane Roberts

WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) -- Gessika Bridgeforth is a sophomore at Banneker High School in the District.

She says playing soccer makes her feel free.

"She's very, very aggressive, very persistent and always comes back very hard," said coach Kate Mansfield.

And even though Banneker loses more games than they win, Gessika loves playing for her team, although the sport isn't her only passion. After school, Number Six trades in the soccer field for the field of food -- Common Good Community Garden -- which grows food for the city's low-income population. 

So far this year, they've harvested 4,600 pounds of food. Besides their small staff, the farm employs 16 kids as part of their fall youth program, and Gessika is one of them.

Top 10 DC area French restaurants

WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Do you love French food? Or is it the ambiance that draws you in? 

The experience of dining at a French restaurant can be just as good as the food -- the multiple courses; the relaxed, go-at-your-own-pace, slowness of enjoying a meal bite for bite; the ambiance that's so uniquely Francais, whether the restaurant mimics a French country inn or a Paris bistro.

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There are several restaurants in the district that offer both a delicious menu AND the ambiance of dining in France. The newest French restaurant on the DC dining scene is le Diplomate. Sit under the red awning long enough and you'll imagine you're dining al fresco at a Parisian cafe.

National Zoo Panda cub receives her first vaccine

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The giant panda cub at the National Zoo received her first vaccine today after a veterinary exam.

Zoo officials say she is very healthy and now weighs 6.73 pounds. She is 16.5 inches (42 centimeters) around her belly and 19.29 inches (49 centimeters) long.  

She has also started crawling now. The mother of the cub Mei Xiang can be seen outside in the mornings around 8:00 a.m. when she leaves the den and the cub to go eat, zoo officials said. 

Ballou Football Coach Jason Lane recounts days as Go-Go musician

WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) -- Jason Lane is very comfortable banging out tunes on a piano and barking out orders on the gridiron, but why is the coach of a 3-4 football team in such good spirits? Easy, Jason Lane is at peace.

"It's safe to say I am at home," said Lane.

Home is Ballou. Lane graduated from the school in Southeast in 1988 and then the odyssey began.

The piano man was once the drummer boy of the DC famed Junkyard Band. In Go-go style, Lane played buckets, that's right, buckets, along with traditional percussion. In the late 80's and 90's the band often packed the Capital Centre.

"We had a string of runs that was phenomenal," remembered Lane, who also played with megastars like MC Hammer and Heavy D & the Boyz.

In 1994, it was time for a change. Lane became officer Lane, on the same streets in which he grew up. It was a steadier lifestyle, but the coach said he was morally conflicted.

Pasta and Goat Ragu from Al Tiramisu

(WUSA9) --- The newscast at noon got a little taste of Italy.

Award- winning Chef Luigi Diotaiuti cooked a famous dish from Al Tiramisu in Dupont Circle. He prepared a mouth watering dish called Market Swiss Chard Laganelle Pasta with Goat Ragu. The savory meal combines local ingredients and the inspiration of Italy.  

Al Tiramisu will be featuring this dish in the James Beard Foundation's Taste America Local Dish Challenge from September 1st through October 31st.  The Foundation is involving several restaurants that will be donating $1 from every dish sold to the JBF Taste America education drive, a program that supports educational programs on topics surrounding our country's food system. 

Top 10 brunch spots in DC

(USA Today/10Best) -- There is something quite indulgent about a leisurely Sunday brunch -- especially if bottomless mimosas are one the menu. 

In Washington, DC, there are many restaurants where you can dine on your breakfast favorites late into Sunday afternoon, and sometimes on Saturday, too.

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Popular and pricey, brunch at The Lafayette is the best of the brunch, er, bunch. So, is the award-winning brunch menu at Seasons, one of the restaurants inside the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown. And the Tabard Inn's brunch is so popular reservations are booked two to three weeks in advance.

The best bargain brunch can be found at Masa 14 and Ambar Restaurant. These bottomless brunches cost $35 per person.

The Shutdown in a word

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Are you frustrated? Embarrassed? Or just feel like saying "Really?" 

What's the one word you'd use to describe your feelings about the shutdown? 

We asked dozens of people on Capitol Hill and in Dupont Circle, and heard some words we can't type here. Some we can: "un-American," "embarrassing," "asinine," "frustrating," "upsetting," "unfortunate," "confusing" and "crippling" to name a few. 

For so many days and in so many ways, the frustration is palpable, even if you're not a federal worker, says Mary Bliss of NW DC says, "Your local sub sandwich place is shut down, your local bars are shut down because there's no federal employees to come in to eat."