July 04, 2006 06:15 PM

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan began a hunger strike on Tuesday – and Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and other stars are joining her in her “Troops Home Fast” protest.

Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, had her last meal at 12 a.m. on July 4 in front of the White House and will remain on a diet of water, teas and juices until Sept. 1, International Peace Day.

“Everything we do is to get the troops to come home,” she told PEOPLE outside the White House on Tuesday. “We want to show the world that there are Americans who are committed to peace. Fasting is such a time-honored way of protest.”

Sarandon, Penn, Danny Glover, Willie Nelson and the Rev. Al Sharpton will join communities across America on a “rolling fast,” giving up food on designated days and encouraging others to fast with them on those days.

So far, more than 3,000 people from the U.S. and 18 other countries have signed up to join the fast.

Some, like Diane Wilson, co-founder of the Code Pink: Women for Peace and organizer of the hunger strike, are giving up food entirely until the troops come home. “I’ve done a number of hunger strikes, and this is the biggest already and it just started yesterday,” Wilson tells PEOPLE.

Sheehan made headlines last summer when she held a peace vigil while camped outside President Bush’s Crawford, Tex., ranch. She plans to return to Crawford in August for the end of her fast.

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