Students at 16 California high schools will be chugging more milk and less soda on their campuses this year.

The high schools are participating in a state-funded pilot project that adds milk vending machines to compete with the racks of soft drinks and sports drinks.

Funded by a $100,000 grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Buy California Initiative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the machines will stock several flavors of milk from low fat to double chocolate.

As part of the project, the Future Farmers of America chapter at each school will operate the machines and share the proceeds. Along with helping students sharpen their business skills and generate money, the vending machines are an important marketing tool for California's $4.6 billion dairy industry.

Nationwide, the number of milk vending machines is expected to reach 9,000 this year, up from 3,500 last year, said Pat Rheel, director of school and business development with Dairy Management Inc.