Forty percent of South Dakota’s public school children qualify for free school lunches, according to a new report. And as high as that figure is, it’s still better than the national rate of 51 percent.

The Southern Education Foundation released their report last week.

Other Northern Plains states also fared better than the national average. North Dakota, at 30 percent, had one of the lowest percentages of students on free or reduced price meals in the nation, followed by Wyoming and Minnesota at 38 percent. Iowa wasa40 percent and Montana at 42 percent. Nebraska had the highest rate in the region at 44 percent.

“For the first time in recent history, a majority of theschoolchildrenattending the nation’s public schools come from low income families,” according to the report.

The report says the trend has grown since 1989, where less than 32 percent of the nation’s public school children were low-income. That increased in 2000 to 38 percent, in 2006 to 42 percent and in 2011 to 48 percent.

While widespread across the nation, the report said the greatest concentration of low income students were in the West and South.