City education officials Wednesday announced they will now provide free lunch for all city public school students.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said it will be available to all kids, regardless of income.

The program officially begins Thursday as school kicks off for the year.

About 80 percent of children currently qualify for free lunch, but advocates say many are embarrassed to accept the meal.

While the chancellor is eliminating the cost of a lunch, parents will still need to fill out a lunch form for each child that attends a public school.

The announcement is a win for the city council, which has been in a years long battle with the mayor over providing a universal free lunch program.

The mayor implemented a program in middle schools during his first year in City Hall but had not expanded it to other grades.

In the past, students were classified based on their family's income. While 75 percent of students qualified for free lunch, some never turned in the proper paperwork, and educators and experts say many others chose not to eat rather than acknowledge their family's low income.

As of this summer, a new state data engine has allowed the city to qualify for more federal food money, paving the way to make free lunch truly universal without costing the city a cent.

200,000 students, who had to pay $1.75 per meal last year, will now eat for free.

Breakfast is already free for all 1.1 million public school students in the city. In recent years, cities, including Boston and Detroit, have rolled out universal free lunch programs.